If a U.S. Marine had to describe the Colorado Republican gubernatorial primary, “FUBAR” would be his likely adjective of choice.
We currently have two candidates striving for the nomination, both of whom are fatally flawed, and neither of whom is the candidate whom most Republicans expected and preferred as the race shaped up last autumn.
In November, state Sen. Josh Penry, a rising young star in Colorado’s Republican Party and widely expected to be the nominee, dropped out of the race. Although Penry won’t talk about it, the story seems clear: Ultra-wealthy Republican king-makers pushed him aside in order to support their preferred candidate, former Rep. Scott McInnis.
These men seem to think that success in business means they must be great at politics. But they gave us the feckless candidacy of Pete Coors over the more talented Bob Schaffer in 2004, leading to the election as senator of now Interior Secretary Ken “All Hat and No Cattle” Salazar.
In 2005, they also supported Referendum C, the biggest tax hike in the history of Colorado, and an issue that tore the Republican Party apart in the state—a wound that is just now healing.
So it’s no surprise that their hand-picked candidate has imploded.
It was reported recently that McInnis was paid $300,000 over two years by a Colorado-based family foundation to produce a paper entitled “Musings on Water,” which contained several sections which had been plagiarized.
McInnis blamed the plagiarism on a research assistant. While he may have been unaware of the plagiarism, when McInnis submitted the paper to the foundation in 2005, he asserted falsely that the writing was his own.
That could have been the end of the story, with McInnis promising to give the foundation back its money. However, upon further investigation it was learned that the $300,000 was intended by the foundation to be McInnis’ salary for a full-time commitment, a salary commensurate with what McInnis would have expected to earn in a private sector job.
But shortly after signing on with the foundation, McInnis took a position as a partner in a large law firm’s Denver office. He continued to take the foundation’s money while not giving them the time or output he promised them. In short, he ripped off the charity.
Since the story broke, Rasmussen Reports’ polling finds that McInnis has dropped from 5 points ahead of the Democratic candidate, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, to 2 points below him.
And for the Republicans, that is the good news.
The Republicans’ other candidate, Dan Maes, has been heavily supported by Tea Party and 9/12 groups despite the fact that he has no relevant experience or qualifications.
Maes just paid a record $17,000 fine to the State of Colorado for campaign finance reporting violations and other questions about his campaign’s spending remain. It took months of requests for him to release his personal tax returns and they show a man of far less financial success than the “business executive” that Maes portrays himself.
He’s gone from supporting amnesty to opposing it. His answers to a gun rights group caused concern over his understanding of the 2nd Amendment and the proper role of a governor in affecting legislation. His interview with the Denver Post editorial board left the paper saying that he is simply not capable of being Colorado’s governor.
The same Rasmussen poll which showed Scott McInnis dropping to 2 points under the Democrat showed Maes dropping from even to 3 points under. In other words, the voters who are fleeing Scott McInnis are going to the Democrat, not to Dan Maes.
This governor’s race is particularly important. In addition to the redistricting following the results of this year’s census, there is also a grassroots movement called Clear the Bench Colorado which aims to get Coloradoans to vote out three ultra-liberal state Supreme Court justices.
CTBC has put enough pressure on the judges that the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, a woman who has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law or the will of the people, announced her retirement a few weeks ago rather than face the voters. If CTBC is successful in causing the removal of one or more justices, the next governor will appoint the replacement(s). As important as Kagan or Sotomayor is on a national level, these vacancies will be at least as important within our state.
John Hickenlooper is Colorado’s Barack Obama: A fake moderate, devotee of all radical green ideas, big fan of Van Jones, subject to no media scrutiny, lover of high taxes, and a man who does his best to be a blank slate on which naïve voters can portray their fondest hopes and dreams.
Because of the mistakes of the GOP “establishment” and Colorado Tea Party groups, giving us Scott McInnis and Dan Maes, respectively, Colorado is in the dubious position of possibly having this dangerous Democrat win its governorship in the most pro-Republican year since 1994.
As if this all isn’t messy enough, former Rep. Tom Tancredo issued a statement on Thursday saying that if Maes and McInnis don’t both agree by noon on Monday, July 26 to drop out of the race after one of them wins the primary, Tancredo will “seek the nomination of the American Constitution Party for governor of Colorado.”
Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams (the man who ran John Thune’s campaign in South Dakota to defeat Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle) responded: “I am terribly disappointed in Tom Tancredo’s announcement that he has made a backroom deal with a minor political party to run for governor.”
Wadhams also noted a 2009 op-ed written by Tancredo in which Tancredo warned against supporting third parties which in the past have only “succeeded in electing the more liberal candidate after many conservatives waste their votes on a third-party candidate.”
If the victor in the Republican primary does drop out, a replacement candidate would be named by a vacancy committee of the state GOP.
The short list of potential replacements in this scenario include Tancredo himself (at least it did until Tancredo made the third party threat; that chance has gone from slim to none), the aforementioned Josh Penry, oil and gas mogul Bruce Benson, and perhaps whoever loses the state’s Republican primary for US Senate. Each of these choices has its own set of problems, though each could have a better chance at winning than either Scott McInnis or Dan Maes.
There are two big hurdles for the replacement scenario: First, the egos of both current candidates are so large as to make them unlikely to drop out, even in the face of devastating poll numbers. Second, many Republicans, especially Maes supporters, say that a replacement candidate would be illegitimate. They threaten simply not to vote in that situation, even if their actions would elect a Democrat governor.
Since neither Maes nor McInnis is likely to get out of the race, Tancredo is likely to get in. That would be a daring move, more likely to increase Hickenlooper’s chances of victory than reduce them. But it’s perhaps the only tactic left available to someone who recognizes that for conservatives, a long shot is better than no shot. At least that’s the argument Tom Tancredo will make.