With weeks to go before the Republican primary for governor of Colorado, there are no signs that beleaguered candidate Scott McInnis will be saved by some last-minute Perry Mason-like revelation. Earlier this month, former Rep. (1992-2004) McInnis’ campaign bid was rocked by the charges that he plagiarized several essays about water rights for the Hasan Family Foundation. The foundation then charged that McInnis (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 93%) also did not do the work that was required of him as a senior fellow.
From there, the story metastasized. At first blaming the problems on a former assistant who did the research and didn’t cite the sources (which the former staffer angrily denied), McInnis finally admitted that “some” of the work wasn’t his own. Last week, he told reporters he would repay the foundation the $300,000 he received for the essays and pronounced the matter closed.
But, of course, it isn’t. A just-completed Rasmussen Poll shows McInnis, for the first time, losing in the general election to the certain Democratic nominee, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. In the last few days, three McInnis campaign staffers have resigned, amid mounting calls among Centennial State Republicans for McInnis to quit the race.
“I don’t see him getting out,” Channel 9-TV(Denver) political correspondent Adam Schrager said to me. “McInnis told me [earlier in the week] that he sees the plagiarism stories as a ‘speed bump.’”
Schrager and most pundits and pols expect the embattled McInnis to survive the primary against little-known businessman Dan Maes. But almost all observers agree that if McInnis does become the Republican nominee, he will be under strong pressure to relinquish the nomination and let the state party’s executive committee select a new GOP nominee.
There was been talk that the loser of the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate—either District Attorney Ken Buck or former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton—will be given the GOP nod for governor if McInnis eventually wins and then resigns that nomination. Another scenario has conservative State Sen. Josh Penry, who briefly sought the gubernatorial nomination and then deferred to McInnis, being nominated under these circumstances. The 34-year-old Penry, now manager of Norton’s Senate campaign, told reporters this would not happen.
Other intriguing speculation has former Rep. (2002-08) Tom Tancredo, a nationally known foe of illegal immigration, becoming the stopgap nominee although, as Schrager said, “Tancredo told me the path to making it happen is near impossible.”
Georgia On Their Minds
Former Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel took the first step last week toward becoming the first woman governor of Georgia. A former Hallmark Cards executive and deputy chief of staff to Marilyn Quayle, Handel topped the four-candidate Republican primary with 34% and will face the second-place finisher (23%), former Rep. Nathan Deal, in a run-off next month.
Both Handel and Deal (lifetime ACU rating: 90%) are considered strong conservatives. However, Handel shot up in polls of likely GOP voters two weeks ago following a strong endorsement by Sarah Palin. On the day after the primary, Handel got an endorsement from another potential 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney. (Because she was the Peach State’s chief elections officer in ’08, Handel stayed neutral in that year’s GOP nomination battle, but Romney did try to win her support with a phone call to Handel from his good friend, singer Donny Osmond.) Deal has the backing of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.).
The winner will face former Gov. (1998-2002) Roy Barnes, who, in ’02, became the first Democrat ever to lose the governorship of Georgia when he was unseated by Republican Sonny Perdue (who is now termed out after eight years as governor).
In the only hotly contested Republican primary for Congress in the state, Rep. Tom Graves got 49% of the vote in the 9th District. Having fallen about 400 votes shy of securing the nomination, Graves now faces a run-off with the runner-up, former State Sen. Lee Hawkins.
The run-off will be the fourth clash between Tea Party favorite Graves (who told Human Events he favors abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency) and Hawkins, who is backed by much of the local GOP establishment. When Deal resigned the seat earlier this year, Graves beat Hawkins in the special election to succeed him.
Party Time: In recent months, there have been several significant changes in the membership of the Republican National Committee. In Illinois, the position of Republican National Committeeman that conservative Pat Brady relinquished to become state party chairman has been filled by attorney Rich Williamson, former state chairman and onetime top aide to former Rep. (1969-2004) Phil Crane (R.-Ill.) and the 1992 Republican U.S. Senate nominee.
New Jersey’s longtime Republican National Committeeman David Norcross recently stepped down. Norcross, who also served as state chairman and was the 1976 Republican Senate nominee, had long been considered a moderate and was vigorously opposed by the right when he ran for national chairman in 1997. (During an interview in ’08, Norcross told me he had grown more conservative over the past decade, is now pro-life, and was a leader in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign).
Replacing Norcross will be former State Sen. Bill Palatucci, a top fund-raiser for Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
More On Paul’s Predictions: One week after we reported how political prognosticators want the celebrated Paul the Octopus to predict the U.S. midterm elections in the same manner he did the World Cup (see “Politics,” July 19), German television’s popular political interviewer Jorg Thadeusz wrote to say, “I’ll try my very best to convince the Oberhausen [site of the aquarium in Germany where Paul lives] fish tank people of your brilliant idea.” Paul captured the world’s attention by carefully opening jars of mussels with the flags of competing countries in each of the finals.
Even after the aquarium announced that Paul was retired after being 6-0 in predicting the winner of the World Cup games, Thadeusz reports that “the whole world wants to know what Paul’s forecast for every single subject might be. A Russian reporter recent posted two papers on the glass front of Paul’s tank, with the names of Putin and Medvedev on it. His prediction [as to which of the Russian leaders would emerge on top] is kept as a secret.”
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