Candidate Maes says he’s in race to the end
Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes will march ahead in what his party chairman says is a virtually impossible task for the candidate: trying to recapture the governor’s mansion.
Maes, in a news release issued about 90 minutes before the Secretary of State’s Office was to certify the Nov. 2 general-election ballot, said he decided to remain on the ballot “after several days of deliberation.”
Maes saw several prominent Republicans, from former Sen. Hank Brown to local officials such as Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, repudiate their endorsements of his candidacy, won just last month in a primary election victory over former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis of Grand Junction.
Maes will face Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo, now the standard bearer for the American Constitution Party.
Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams said he is “very disappointed” in Maes’ decision. Had Maes opted out of the race, Republicans could have named a nominee to take his place on the ballot.
Maes’ candidacy is handicapped by revelations that “have raised serious questions about the veracity of how he has presented his professional background and career,” Wadhams said in a statement Friday.
Those revelations “have virtually destroyed any possibility of running a viable campaign,” Wadhams said.
Among those revelations were questions about whether Maes worked undercover as a police officer in Kansas and issues about his record as a businessman.
A defiant Maes said in his own statement that he “listened equally to those who wanted me in this race and those who did not, and after internalizing that advice, I’m proud to say I’m in it to win it.”
He couldn’t ignore the 200,000 Republicans who voted for him in the primary, Maes said, and his campaign noted he also owed it to his campaign contributors to make the most of their money. Contributions to the campaign after the primary were running double or triple the rate before it, Maes spokesman Nate Strauch said.
If Maes is counting on voters to simply pull the lever for a Republican, he’s sorely mistaken, Rowland said.
“There’s a lot of split-ticket voters” who will shy away from voting for Maes, herself among them, Rowland said. “This year people will vote the candidate and not the party.”
Still, “I’m just sick to my stomach,” Rowland said. “I don’t know how we got where we are.”
Maes will get plenty of support when he arrives next week in Grand Junction, said Tim Fenwick, spokesman for GJResult.com.
“I’m excited,” Fenwick said. “We’re going to put up signs and welcome him in.”
A three-candidate race with the Republican and conservative vote apparently split poses a problem, Fenwick said.
“Now we have to salvage somehow the split vote, and I’m not sure how that transpires yet,” he said.
Republicans and Democrats, however, “are tired of both parties telling them what to do.”
A Maes supporter-turned-critic, Jennifer Bailey, said conservatives, many of them allied with the tea party, felt “very much a sentiment of frustration that we’re in this predicament.”
People who responded to her question, however, weren’t planning to walk away from the election overall, Bailey said.
Maes is to face Hickenlooper a week from today in the Club 20 debate in Grand Junction.
The rules preclude Tancredo’s participation in the debate because his new party failed to garner 10 percent of the vote in the last election for governor.
On Friday, though, Club 20 Executive Director Reeves Brown said he had heard from Tancredo’s campaign, requesting to participate in the debate.
At the time the rule was established, it was intended to set up an “objective decision model,” Brown said. “Well, nobody envisioned this scenario.”