Schmuck of the Week

Scott McInnis, 2010 Shmuck of the Year nominee

Westword is asking readers to help us select a Shmuck of the Year by rolling out a new candidate each week throughout the month of December.

The winner -- loser -- will be announced on January 3. Our first candidate was the newly fired Josh McDaniels.

This week, say hello to Scott McInnis.

Maybe he shouldn't have shaved the mustache he'd worn for a quarter of a century. Because, like Samson, that's when the wheels began falling off for Scott McInnis, the six-term Western Slope Republican congressman who'd announced in May 2009 that he would run for governor.

Anointed by the state GOP, McInnis was a lock for the GOP nomination at one point, and the favorite to win the whole thing after Democratic governor Bill Ritter announced that he wouldn't run for re-election.

But in July, just weeks before the GOP primary, it was learned that McInnis had plagiarized a large part of a 150-page report on water he'd authored in 2005 for the Hasan Family Foundation from a 1984 essay by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs; the Hasan family demanded to be repaid the $300,000 they'd given McInnis to write the paper.

Although McInnis denied that the heavy lifting had been his fault -- blaming it on his assistant, an 82-year-old former water official -- the news cost him the primary and nearly cost the Republican Party its major-party status when eventual punchline Dan Maes became the GOP nominee.

As a result, former Republican rabble-rouser Tom Tancredo switched from the GOP to the American Constitution Party to run against both Maes and Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper, splitting the conservative vote.

The "McInnis effect" landed Colorado both a Democratic governor in Hickenlooper and a Democratic senator in Michael Bennet after the general election, bucking the national trend.

For more Shmucks, visit our Shmuck of the Week archive.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes