Tea partier Maes leads over McInnis
LOVELAND — Evergreen businessman Dan Maes eked out a narrow victory Saturday among GOP faithful, capturing a slim victory over the presumed favorite, Scott McInnis, in the race for the GOP nomination for governor.
Maes entered the race for governor when it was dominated by the battle between two Grand Junction residents: McInnis and state Sen. Josh Penry. Saying he didn’t want to split the party, Penry dropped out of the race.
Maes captured the imagination of party faithful in the Budweiser Events Center with an appeal for small government and by pitching himself as an alternative to politics-as-usual.
McInnis, meanwhile, rarely mentioned Maes, preferring to aim his fire at Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, the Democratic candidate for the open governorship.
“This was the people standing up,” Maes told jubilant supporters moments after the tally was announced.
Maes garnered 1,741 delegate votes to McInnis’ 1,725 — a 16-vote margin — or 49 percent to 48 percent.
A favorite of the tea-party movement, Maes said his bid was clearly aligned with the dissatisfaction with government in general, but was more powered by grassroots support than by the tea-party movement.
“It’s not just about the tea party,” Maes said.
Even party leaders urged him to maintain his bid when it appeared the party was going to settle on a candidate without a primary, Maes said.
“They wanted fresh blood,” Maes said.
McInnis wasn’t in the events center for the final tally — he was on his way to Estes Park for his daughter’s wedding on Saturday evening.
McInnis pointed delegates back to his early background as a police officer, and using a video presentation depicted lights and sirens coming to the aid of people in trouble.
Those people, McInnis said, now are Coloradans losing their jobs at a rate of 276 a day and they need to know that “Help is coming,” he said.
His first job would be to repeal Gov. Bill Ritter’s executive order giving all state employees collective-bargaining rights, McInnis said.
Any effort to water down or destroy the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights would be rejected, McInnis said.
“I’ll veto it so fast the pen will hit the paper before the ink,” McInnis said.
Maes’ victory was a “tribute to his tenacity,” said party Chairman Dick Wadhams, and was helped by the presence of first-time delegates, whom Wadhams estimated at 30 percent to 40 percent.
Maes said he would continue a positive campaign, admittedly punctuated by occasional jabs, aimed at supporting smaller government, reviving the energy industry and “doing something about illegal immigration.”
Maes, an Evergreen businessman, embraced his tea-party support, telling the delegates, “Let me introduce the Republican institution to the conservative revolution.”
Maes, backed by red T-shirt-clad supporters, stressed his newcomer status to politics and his business background in stops across the state leading up to the convention.
Republicans will have several primary elections besides the one for the gubernatorial election.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck captured 76 percent of the vote from delegates, but faces an almost-certain primary challenge from former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.
Norton is a Grand Junction native, who is collecting signatures in a bid to petition onto the ballot.
Treasurer candidate J.J. Ament got 79 percent of the vote at the convention, but he could face a challenge from Walker Stapleton, who also is collecting petitions.
Ali Hasan got 19 percent of the delegates’ votes and could conceivably petition on, but he would have to do so this week.