Dan Maes worse than Christine O'Donnell?: National press pummels GOP guv nominee

These days, Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes isn't getting much love in Colorado, where one poll shows him with just 5 percent support, to the delight of Tom Tancredo. But the national press he's getting of late may be even uglier, with one major source wondering if he's the nation's least popular GOP hopeful.

While Maes hasn't been satirized the way Elvira needled Delaware's Christine O'Donnell or turned into a joke on Saturday Night Live like Ken Buck, he's been singled out by heavy hitters of a different type.

Take "The Terrible Election Race Race," an October 1 piece by New York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins, who wrote this about Maes:

Colorado voters, in the fun-loving spirit that has filled so many Republican primaries this season, gave the gubernatorial nomination to a newcomer named Dan Maes, who had already been hit with one of the largest campaign finance violation fines in state history for claiming more than $40,000 in mileage reimbursements -- which would suggest that he spent the last year driving the equivalent of more than a third of the way to the moon.

Now Maes is in résumé trouble, too, for apparently making up a story about being an undercover operative for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in Liberal, Kan. Liberal is best known as the home of a "Wizard of Oz" Museum, although, unfortunately, that had nothing to do with the investigation, which involved a drug ring but did not involve Dan Maes.

Collins ultimately decided that Colorado falls short of the campaign in Nevada when it came to "overall awfulness" -- but she might reconsider after reading a Monday piece in Salon, whose Alex Pareene wrote:

Even in a cycle in which extreme views, conspiracy theories, Bircher tendencies, and general stupidity are all fast becoming normalized by a radical crop of depressingly viable insurgent Republican candidates, Maes is just too inescapably awful for Colorado voters. Plus, the true believers can just vote for immigrant-hater Tom Tancredo, currently mounting a third-party campaign.

As for the prospect of the GOP losing major party status in the state if Maes fails to generate 10 percent or more of the vote, Pareene declares the possibility funny -- "but that would also mean that the GOP would be replaced, in Colorado, by the American Constitution Party, which is, honestly, a step in an even crazier direction. (Especially if that monster Tancredo actually pulls out a victory.)"

The next day, the Wall Street Journal chimed in with a less snarky but still damaging article essentially blaming Maes for causing Colorado Tea Party groups to splinter. Among those quoted is 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition chair Lu Busse, who tells the Journal, "On both sides, some people feel betrayed. I don't see that there's going to be an easy resolution."

On the other hand, things can't get much worse for Maes. Can they?

More from our Politics archive: "Dan Maes dumped by Hank Brown -- and 9.12 Project/Liberty Movement reps want sit-down."

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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