Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is upset about the effort by GOP heavyweights to make Scott McInnis the de facto party standard bearer months before the primary -- and he says lots of tea party members will express the same sentiment at a December 12 "Defend the Republic Rally" inspired by a couple of recent media offerings.
"There were two flashpoints this past week that galvanized many conservatives," says Maes, who previously declared that he's the only true conservative left in the race.
"One was a Wall Street Journal article proclaiming that the GOP was reaching out to tea parties with the McInnis platform, when it had done nothing of the sort, and the other was a Neil Cavuto-Fox News interview with my opponent [McInnis] that anointed him the tea party candidate, which infuriated the grassroots to a level I can't even begin to explain in a matter of hours."
In contrast, Maes points out that he's been formally endorsed by three separate tea party organizations: the Northern Colorado Tea Party, the Evergreen-Conifer Tea Party and the Southern Colorado Tea Party. Such endorsements "are out of character for them," Maes says, "but it reflects their extreme frustration."
He stops short of saying that he's the true Tea Party choice, but he does maintain that "unofficially, I have great support among many grassroots organizations, and the tea parties are just some of them. And I will continue to work very hard to close the deal with them over the next few months."
That's dangerous territory according to the liberal ProgressNow organization, which called on McInnis and other candidates to renounce what it referred to as tea-party "extremists" in a Friday press release on view below. But Maes sees such labeling as stereotyping of the worst sort.
"I believe liberals and the state-level GOP have a very big misperception of the tea party organizations, and the savvy of these grassroots organizations," he says. "If this was the 1960s, liberals would think they were the greatest people in the world -- so it's completely hypocrisy for any liberal to denounce what tend to be very civil, though vocal, events. And I believe even some stalwart Republicans may seem them the same way."
Not that Maes is ready to renounce his party affiliation.
"Don't get me wrong," he warns. "I've voted Republican since I was 19, and I'm still a Republican -- and most of these people are registered Republicans. But the grassroots of this country -- the conservative grassroots that includes Democrats, unaffiliated voters and Republicans -- have had it with the traditional two-party system and the way it ordains candidates."
Hence, the "Defend the Republic Rally," which he describes as "a forum for conservatives to voice their concerns about what's happening at the top-level of the GOP, and the way the state GOP and certain Republicans seem to be attempting to dictate who we should be voting for. They're very angry about it, and we're providing a vehicle for them to address their concerns."
According to Maes, "most of the speakers at the rally will be members of tea party and 912 organizations. I will speak near the end, and a constitutional expert by the name of Mike Holler will close up the event," which will take place at the State Capitol.
Sounds like a party -- and you can guess the beverage of choice.
Look below to see McInnis' appearance on Fox News, as well as more information about the rally and ProgressNow's anti-tea party salvo.
Clip of Scott McInnis being interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News:
Dan Maes press release:
Defend the Republic Rally
Dec. 12, 2009 1:00 PM -- 2:00 PM
West Steps of the State Capital
A handful of Republican elitists in Washington and Denver are trying to hand pick their moderate Republican candidates to dominate in the primary process. We must take a stand against this tyranny and tell these elitists we will not take any more of their manipulation of the voting process!!
No other race is this more evident in than the governor's race. Fiscally conservative candidates are being run out of the system one after the other. The Platform for Prosperity is a bogus marketing ploy to corral others into the fold. We must tell them
Enough is Enough!
There is a conservative republican candidate that has traveled Colorado over 40,000 miles over the last 7 months working hard and standing strong for conservative values. We are asking you to make this one trip to Denver to support fiscally conservative choices.
Be Ready With Your Presence
Voice and Signs
Small Contribution of $5, $10, $15 or $20.00.
Speakers will include: TBA
Stand Up and Be Heard!!
Your organization may set up a booth or table after 12:00 noon for free.
Contributions of $20 will be converted to 19.99 by giving you a penny back. This amount is not required to be recorded. Checks over that amount are encouraged and must have a phone number. All contributions will be given to the Friends of Dan Maes for Governor committee and used toward fighting for a conservative choice in the governor's race. The contribution is optional but will help us to have a real conservative in the primary for governor. This is not an endorsement of Dan Maes for Governor. Please attend and make your voice heard.
ProgressNow tea-party-related press release:
Call for all Colorado gubernatorial candidates to immediately renounce "Tea Party" extremists
DENVER -- ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, today demanded that all candidates for Governor of Colorado immediately renounce ties to the racist and extremist "Tea Party" movement. The call comes after Scott "McLobbyist" McInnis was featured on Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto as a "Tea Party Backed Candidate."
"The extremist 'Tea Party' fringe represents the very worst in American politics today," said ProgressNow Colorado founder Michael Huttner. "From their racist questioning of President Barack Obama's citizenship to their support for irresponsible ballot measures like the 'Poundstone Amendment'--designed to destroy the state's ability to carry out core functions of government--'Tea Partiers' have no place in a civil dialogue about the future of this state or this country.
"Amazingly," Huttner continued, "right-wing Colorado politicians continue to embrace the 'Tea Party' movement after all they've done to discredit themselves. Earlier this week former congressman Scott McInnis was lauded on the right-wing Fox News Channel as the 'Tea Party Backed Candidate.' Apparently, McInnis thinks that the belligerence and extremism on display at these rallies is what he needs to win."
At numerous 'Tea Party' events held in Colorado since Obama became President, ProgressNow Colorado has documented racism and extremism on parade. Signs carried by Colorado 'Tea Partiers' this year have compared Obama to Hitler, the Soviet Union, and even a monkey (image at right). 'Tea Partiers' also strongly support the racist and xenophobic agenda of ex-congressman Tom Tancredo, as well as several extremist anti-government ballot initiatives slated to be voted on in Colorado next year.
"We call on all candidates for Governor -- not just the one who claims the 'backing' of the 'Tea Party' fringe--to immediately condemn and renounce the agenda of these far right extremists," concluded Huttner. "Their agenda would seriously harm Colorado if it were ever to be enacted, and no serious candidate for higher office should give them the time of day."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.