McInnis: “I Would Have Beat Udall”

UPDATE: McInnis opens up to the Post’s Michael Rileythis 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.

30 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ralphie says:

    We’ll be hearing lots more of it Nov 5.  I guess it’s never too early to start.

  2. One Queer Dude says:

    …but he’d probably only be trailing by single digits.  This is still as toxic a year for the Repubs as ’06 was.  And maybe more so…

    • Hugh Jorgen 2008 says:

      McInnis lacked the balls to run.  McInnis is nothing more than a whiner. Scott McInnis will pop up every two years to say that he is going to run for this of for that. At some future date the press will figure out he is never going to actually run and ignore him.  McInnis likes to see his name in the paper.

  3. One Queer Dude says:

       Could that be why Udall is polling well on the Western Slope?

    • Colorado Pols says:

      The ’97 transit vote is one nail in the coffin, but Referendum A is lethal for Schaffer on the Western Slope in a big way. “Big Oil Bob” probably isn’t helping either.

      On second thought, there’s a bunch of reasons.

  4. Gilpin Guy says:

    There were some ethics issues that came to play in his retirement decision if I remember correctly.  Opened the door for John Salazar.

  5. ohwilleke says:

    that he’d held safely for years, opening the door to Salazar in CO-3.

    If you aren’t even bothered to stay in the office you have, and don’t put your name on the primary ballot, you have no room to gripe.

    Given the likely state of affairs in Washington D.C. these days, he has no hope of a political appointment in the next administration, and his connections in the Republican minority in the U.S. House aren’t going to have much value in the next session of Congress either.  His Colorado GOP connections don’t have much pull in the state house either, where Republicans are securely in a minority in both Houses, and there is a Democratic Governor.  Hogan and Hartson may have to reassign him from lobbying work to legal work.

    Maybe his interest in running for office flows from his bleak future as a lobbyist.

  6. redstateblues says:

    Schaffer and Wadhams choked worse than W eating a pretzel.

  7. WesternSlopeThought says:

    First of all, I dispute that.  Was McInnis looking for a coronation or a fair primary run?  If McInnis had run, he would have had to run to the far right of Udall in his Republican primary.  That combined with the McInnis support of Bush policies would have put him in the same boat as Schaffer.  We would have had two McBushs running.  Secondly, when you do not have the cajones to take on Wadhams or the rest of the far right who control the Republican party in Colorado, it shows voters that you will easily kowtow to their extremist agenda.  And thirdly, when McInnis is the one responsible for giving political birth to the most extreme Colorado wingnut, in the person of Josh Penry, his statement saying, “Frankly I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party,” does not stand up to the light of day or reality. Especially when we see McInnis doing ads supporting Penry’s personal pork barrel project in Amendment 52.

    • bob ewegen says:

      but I agree Amendment 52 is very bad for the

      Western Slope. Why would McInnis sign on to that water raid?  It enrages the water buffaloes and the enviros alike.  Certainly no way to higher office.

  8. Jambalaya says:

    He’s been running from difficult races his entire life…and it’s everyone’s fault but his…….WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  9. Car 31 says:

    if only Wayne Wolf would’ve run…

  10. But maybe also a large grain of truth and a hint of some hard truths that need to be faced.

    Maybe this was just buddy-buddy stuff, maybe a bit of hard right vs. moderate choice within the party.  There’s gonna be a lot of this going on in the next few weeks, and who wins the “why we lost” argument is going to be a determining factor in the direction of the party for the next two years.  Further right, or step back and retool?

    • BlueCat says:

      is that McInnis is going so public with this now, not waiting until after the election, not maintaining even a fig leaf of still rooting for the home team. More and more it’s the GOP that seems most confident in an Obama win and a Dem Tsunami.   That the GOP internecine war is on and has been for weeks before election day is the best reason yet for Dems to dare hope for the best this time. Fingers crossed, of course.

      • The moderates were shut out, and the ultra-conservatives are still trying to run races.  It’s hard for the right wing to punch back until after the election, so folks like McInnis can get in some free shots and get some early momentum in the battle.

        And I’m not smiling one single bit about the internecine struggle, either.  Nope.  Not me…

        • Haners says:

          I think the timing of this is bad.  I mean, I wasn’t crazy about McInnis before because something about him just seemed off, but I would have listened to him if he said this after the election.

          But doing so before hand strikes me as incredibly self serving.  There is a time and place for starting this debate, and this seems like very poor timing.

        • One Queer Dude says:

          did former state Rep Ramey Johnson end up endorsing anyone in the U.S. Senate race?  If so, who?

      • RavenDawg says:

           Picture this in the NFL: 2:00 to go, your team is down, the other guys have the lead and the ball, and here comes Lil Scooter with his clean uniform and armchair quarterback advice. That stuff gets you cut or traded to Detroit.

          If I’m a Repub I’m asking, What did Scott do to help all those down-ticket candidates?  What did he do to endorse his opponent Schaffer and unite the party in a tough year for Repubs?  Even from a self-interested viewpoint, what did he do to begin building a coalition of not-so-rad Repubs with an eye to the future?  If he thinks moderates are more electable, why didn’t he have the balls to make his case in the primary?  

          My personal opinion is this is not about the dialog the party needs to move forward, this is about Scott putting his petty, personal grudges and score-settling ahead of the good of his party.  Not the kind of guy I would want in a leadership position.

         If this is how Repubs work out their differences, we are going to need more popcorn.

          • bob ewegen says:

            is grown in my own native Phillips County, Colorado, at Poe farms.   As it happens, the late Guy Poe, a friend of my father, was chairman of the House Rules Committee when Steve McNichols was gov and the Ds controlled the legislature from 1956 through 1962.  So pop ’em if you got them to support the Democratic farmers of this state!

            If we ever get together, PR, I’ll show you my favorite trick…popping corn in bacon grease. OK, after three bags you go into cardiac arrest. But the flavor is to die for.  

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