Dan Maes: If Scott McInnis drops out, conservatives should rally around me

As Scott McInnis's plagiarism problems worsened, Republican power brokers began to consider what to do should he drop out of the guv race. And while there's plenty of debate about who the best candidate should be, there's wide agreement among such folks about who it shouldn't be: Dan Maes, the man with his name atop the August primary ballot due to his state assembly victory over McInnis.

Maes says such backroom dealers are dead wrong.

The anti-Maes sentiment is encapsulated by comments from KHOW talk-show host Dan Caplis, who's calling for McInnis to halt his candidacy. He insists that this view shouldn't be taken as a "knock on Dan" -- but he feels that other Republicans would have a better chance of besting presumed Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper.

"We've been hearing talk about that," Maes concedes -- but he insists that such machinations don't anger him. In his words, "I'm not insulted by anything anymore."

Caplis "has his right to his opinion, but his opinion is no more important than any other opinion out there," he adds.

As for McInnis, Maes says, "He's going to do what he thinks is best, and I'm going to do what I think is best. We're going to continue doing what we've always done, and that's where we stand today."

To Maes, the assertions about his weakness as a statewide candidate -- and the belief that he remains a virtual unknown to the majority of voters -- are contradicted by his campaign accomplishments to date.

"I won the state assembly, and we have incredible grassroots support," he maintains -- a claim offered by 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition chair Lu Busse in this space yesterday. "And I think they jeopardize grassroots support if they throw their weight behind somebody else. These old-line Republicans still don't get it. They still don't understand the significance of the grassroots movement in this state and how well known I really am.

"I can't help it that certain old-line Republican groups have their head in the sand about the reality of what's happening. But I welcome them to our campaign when they're ready to wake up."

Hickenlooper "definitely has a charm over the city of Denver," he allows. "But no one has been around this state more than I have been" -- a reference to the 80,000-90,000 miles Maes has reportedly racked up in the past year or so. Thanks to his road warrior status, "I know the hearts and minds of the conservative voters all across Colorado, and the last thing they want is another Denver Democrat in office."

Of course, Maes has a black mark on his record, too. He recently was assessed a $17,500 fine for irregularities in campaign reporting. Equating this pricey wrist-slap to McInnis's plagiarism woes "would certainly be a good attack strategy for the Democrats," Maes notes. "And if they're willing to give that a try, they can. But these are two completely different situations.

"We have not paid the fine yet. The fine will be paid over the next thirty days, per the court order. But we believe this was a very isolated situation that won't happen again."

Although McInnis has put much of the blame for the plagiarism on a researcher, Rolly Fischer, Maes says he's rejected buck-passing.

"That's been my approach since day one -- and it's irrelevant as to whether Scott McInnis and this plagiarism issue existed or not. We made the mistakes, and I personally accept responsibility for them, and I apologize for those mistakes. But they were simple, one-time clerical errors very easy to correct next time -- and they were corrected very promptly once they were brought to our attention."

His argument against the Republican Party drafting another guv hopeful if McInnis splits?

"You don't want to put another candidate in place, because you're going to continue to divide the Republican vote," he says. "The vote was divided with Scott and I in the race, and it's time to unify behind a candidate who has proven his electability, and put all the Republican resources behind me.

"I can win this. The polls say I can win this, and I've already got the hearts and minds of the people. Now it's time for the party to get behind me."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts