Yesterday, GOP guv candidate Dan Maes released documents connected to his firing as a Liberal, Kansas cop in 1985 -- a bizarre assemblage of material unlikely to supercharge his faltering campaign. But Colorado Republican Party chieftain Dick Wadhams isn't worried about other GOP candidates going down with Maes's ship, and he urges Maes not to surrender no matter what.
The Maes releases detail his mid-'80s discovery that family members of his fiancee, Dee Andrade, were involved in a gambling operation -- and how he eventually told Dee and (sort of) a relative of hers about an ongoing investigation into these activities. In a letter appealing the decision to sack him for his loose lips, he insisted that his only misconduct was sharing "the pressures and anxieties of a complex investigation with the most important person in my life."
Dan Maes as a police officer in Liberal, Kansas.
When asked about these documents, Wadhams offers a mild, and halting, endorsement for Maes, who he still officially backs. "Dan has done his best to try to talk about this issue, and I commend him for releasing the police reports," he says. "He's tried to answer these questions, and we'll just have to see if it's enough for the voters. It's clearly been a problem for him."
That's not the only one. A new Fox News poll shows Maes's support is down to 15 percent, with Tom Tancredo racking up 34 percent and frontrunner John Hickenlooper hanging in with 44 percent. If Maes finishes below 10 percent, the Republican Party would lose its major-party status on the next ballot -- meaning GOP candidates would be listed alongside hopefuls from minor parties.
Wadhams doesn't believe this will happen. "That would be an extraordinary circumstance," he says -- and even if it did, "it wouldn't change how the Republican Party functions, because we have a clear set of bylaws that set forth our nomination process. And in any given campaign short of the governor's race, choices usually come down to Republican and Democratic candidates. If someone wants to vote for a Republican candidate, they're going to do so regardless of where they find it on the ballot. So I'm not worried about that.
"I think Ken Buck is going to be elected U.S. senator, I think there's a strong possibility of us picking up three Congressional seats, and I think [Attorney General] John Suthers, [treasurer candidate] Walker Stapleton and [Secretary of State hopeful] Scott Gessler are strong contenders. It would be ironic if we won most if not all of those races and were officially considered to be a minority party."
Not that Wadhams foresees a Republican sweep. Although he praises Mike Fallon, who's taking on Diana DeGette in District 1, and Stephen Bailey, Jared Polis's opponent in District 2, he concedes that "the numbers are against us."
But Wadhams is very bullish on Cory Gardner's chances to oust Betsy Markey from her District 4 seat, thinks Ed Perlmutter's attacks on Ryan Frazier in District 7 suggest that the former "knows he's in trouble," and sees positive developments in the District 3 matchup between incumbent John Salazar and rival Scott Tipton. He points to an editorial in today's Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ripping Salazar, who the paper has supported in the past, for an allegedly unfair attack ad on Tipton.
"I think there's a strong possibility of us winning all three of these races," Wadhams allows. "I'm not saying we're going to, but I'm saying it's a strong possibility."
As for the Buck-Bennet contest, Wadhams doubts Democratic efforts to cast the former as an extremist will work.
"Ken Buck is a solid, mainstream, conservative Republican in the tradition of Hank Brown, Wayne Allard and Bill Armstrong," he maintains. "Democrats tried to call them extremists, too, and they won big elections. And it shows how intellectually bankrupt Democrats are in the race that they're running ads on abortion when the public is so concerned about the economy and taxes and spending."
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And Maes? Wadhams doesn't want him to quit, no matter how bad things get.
"I urged both him and Tom Tancredo to withdraw earlier so we could field a strong single candidate against Hickenlooper," he notes. "But that didn't work out, so he's our nominee. Other major Republicans have withdrawn their support, but I, as state chairman, support him. I don't anticipate him dropping out, and I don't think he should."
For that, you can bet Hickenlooper is plenty grateful.