UPDATE: McInnis opens up to the Post’s Michael Riley—this is a must-read:
McInnis said it’s a sign of how the Republican Party has mishandled this election – anointing a candidate who now is trailing in the polls, failing to focus enough on down-ticket races and dividing the time of its state chairman, who is now running Schaffer’s Senate campaign.
“My problem was that the head of the Senatorial Republican Committee is Sen. John Ensign of Nevada. John was Bob Schaffer’s former roommate, and John made it very clear up front that their pick was Bob Schaffer,” McInnis said, conceding for the first time that his candidacy was torpedoed by “a very small group of people.”
“They said, ‘Look, we are going to aggressively work against you and for Bob. We want Bob as the candidate,’ ” McInnis said.
The revelation comes a week before state voters go to the polls and with Schaffer trailing Democrat Mark Udall by double digits in several surveys.
And Republicans say it may mark the beginning of a ferocious debate about the direction of the party…
McInnis today hit many of the points around which that debate will likely turn.
The party too often runs candidates that appeal to the party base but can’t win over critical moderate voters, he said.
And Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams has focused too much on the Senate race, without raising money or deploying resources to help candidates win back seats in the state legislature, which the Democrats have controlled since 2004…
Wadhams strongly disputed that characterization. [Pols emphasis]
McInnis doesn’t really try to take it back when the Rocky Mountain News calls, and either way there’s no misinterpreting what he told either the Independent (below) or the Post (above).
Make no mistake, blood will spill over this after the election. McInnis’ press tour today, a week before the election but in every respect assumptive of the outcome, is a high-drama gauntlet being thrown. If the GOP suffers another humiliation up and down the ticket next Tuesday, McInnis clearly intends to benefit–with Wadhams’ head on a pike as his first trophy. Original post follows.
We’ve made no secret about our nostalgia for ex-GOP Senate candidate Scott McInnis, who was muscled out of the race by a combination of pressure from the hard-right (spelled Bob Schaffer) wing of his party and determined efforts on the left to paint him as a sold-out “McLobbyist.” Internal polling reportedly showed McInnis faced major problems, and his image was quickly being pulled out from under him in the spring of 2007, but he was the stronger candidate.
He always knew it, we knew it, and everybody knows it now, as the Colorado Independent discusses with McInnis in an interview:
The reason the state GOP is poised to lose a second Senate seat to the Democrats, McInnis said, is because the party has veered too far to the right in recent years.
“I would have beat Udall, that wasn’t the issue,” McInnis said. “Frankly I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election. My biggest threat was getting through the primary. Both parties have a pretty radical element to them.”
McInnis, now a lawyer and a lobbyist with the Denver firm Hogan & Hartson, would not get more specific about his rift with the Colorado Republican Party and its chairman and Schaffer campaign manager Dick Wadhams, except to reiterate that the extreme elements of the party are calling the shots…
McInnis and Schaffer don’t like each other. It’s well known, with one of the key flashpoints in their unfriendship being a vote by Schaffer to deprive McInnis’ district of certain highway funds in 1997. There are other incidents, this isn’t really newsy.
But also well known is the longtime close friendship between Schaffer and GOP chairman/Schaffer campaign manager Dick Wadhams, whose late wife was Schaffer’s chief of staff in Congress. In hindsight, there’s no question that Wadhams’ closeness with Schaffer was a key factor in pushing McInnis out of the race.
And if, as most observers see likely, Schaffer crashes and burns next Tuesday, McInnis could find himself in a position to do some muscling of his own. The Independent concludes:
McInnis said he underestimated how much he would miss public policymaking and interacting with the people after leaving office in 2004. Depending on the state of his party in coming years, he said he won’t rule out running for any number of public offices.
“[Salazar’s] up in two years and Ritter’s up in two years and there’s a [Mesa] county commissioner seat in two years and there’s sheriff’s race in Mesa County, so who knows?”
At the same time, McInnis always floats his name for higher office – he did it in 2005 for governor, remember. But he still has to make sure that skeleton-filled closet is really locked tight before he can actually jump into a race with both feet. Given how quickly he bailed on this Senate race, we’re not optimistic.
But if he wants to run for Mesa County Sheriff…hey, knock yourself out.