GOP governor candidates square off
Republicans say they favor Arizona's new immigration law
Evergreen businessman Dan Maes and former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis took a few shots at each other, but Democrats drew more of their fire Thursday during a debate sponsored by the Western Colorado Conservative Alliance.
The two Republican candidates for Colorado governor gave virtually the same answers on such things as protecting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, balancing the state’s budget and appointing conservative judges to the bench, but they differed on the details for each.
McInnis said if a similar bill to Arizona’s controversial new law requiring police to check the legal status of immigrants landed on the governor’s desk, he would sign it.
Maes said he wouldn’t wait. He would require police in Colorado to enforce laws already on the books, such as verifying the legal status of anyone getting a job or asking for state aid, and make sure police turn illegal immigrants arrested for other crimes over to the federal government.
“The federal government has refused to guard those borders in the kind of way that it’s supposed to be done,” McInnis said. “They’re not doing their job. They put her (Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer) in this corner. I support her, and you could expect as your governor from Colorado, I’d do the same exact thing that she did.”
McInnis said the situation in Arizona with the number of illegal immigrants is more pervasive than in Colorado, and Brewer, a Republican, had no choice but to support that law.
He also took the opportunity to attack his GOP opponent as once favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants, something Maes denied, prompting an attack of his own.
“Did you hear an answer? Did you hear a strategy?” Maes said of McInnis’ response to the Arizona law. “If an Arizona law came across his desk, if it came across his desk, he would sign it. I’m not saying, ‘If someone were to put something in front of me,’ I’m saying if I were your governor, I’d be doing that right now.”
Although he wasn’t specific about how he would do it, Maes said he would cut taxes and reduce the size of various state agencies depending on their importance.
McInnis, who served 12 years in Congress as well as a stint in the Colorado Legislature, said he would do the same, but added public education is protected by the Colorado Constitution, and cutting it is problematic. He said other state programs, such as prisons, shouldn’t be touched.
He said if Maes had experience in the Legislature, he would know better how to cut the budget. Maes countered that he was not a career politician or an experienced lobbyist, two things McInnis has been.
McInnis said experience is necessary not only to deal with the Legislature and folks in Washington, D.C., but also the ability to defeat the only Democrat in the race, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
“I come in clean. I don’t owe anybody, nobody owes me,” Maes said.
“This John Hickenlooper, he’s not going to be a walk in the park,” McInnis said. “We’ve got to have the capabilities to beat him. None of my opponents have been in a campaign. I know how to beat Hickenlooper.”