Rep. Steve King: Worst Endorsement Ever?

Republican Rep. Steve King is obviously so safe in his Iowa district that it doesn’t really matter what crazy crap comes out of his mouth — he’s going to get re-elected one way or the other. But that doesn’t mean that he’s a good guy to have on your list of endorsements.

You might recall in 2010 that Cory Gardner cancelled a fundraiser with King as the featured guest after King’s bizarre comments to the media that President Obama has a “default mechanism” that “favors the black person.” Then-gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo welcomed King for his own fundraiser, and Tancredo no doubt would be pleased with the kind of rhetoric that King spewed out recently.

According to, King compared immigrants to, well, to dogs:

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, compared immigrants to dogs at a town hall meeting yesterday, telling constituents that the U.S. should pick only the best immigrants the way one chooses the “pick of the litter.”

King told the crowd in Pocahontas, Iowa, that he’s owned lots of bird dogs over the years and advised, “You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest…not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner.”

King suggested lazy immigrants should be avoided as well. “You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. Well, we’ve got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet,” King said. “We’ve got the vigor from the planet to come to America.”

So what’s that have to do with Colorado politics? Well, King recently endorsed Mitt Romney for President, which is probably helpful with certain Tea Party constituents but might not be as useful with everyone else — including undecided Colorado voters who hear about these comments through an aggressive Obama campaign.

This Guy for President

Gary Hart. Tom Tancredo. Jerry Lanser.

What do these names have in common? They are all Colorado residents who have run for President of the United States. Jerry Lanser is a small business owner from Longmont who is running for President as a Republican and is apparently heading to Iowa this weekend to campaign. He even thinks people are going to be paying attention to him. From his website,

I believe the 2012 election is probably the last reasonable chance we have to get our budget under control. I am willing, for the sake of those grandchildren, to run for the job of President of the United States on a platform focused on growing our economy and reestablishing a government that operates on a balanced budget. I am willing to set the baseline for all other candidates by making specific proposals which you can view on the specifics page, with the full realization that this will make me the lightning rod for every special interest group in the country. [Pols emphasis]

“Lightning rod?” Uh, sure. If putting a broomstick on your roof works the same as a lightning rod. But before you get concerned that he might be misleading himself, Lanser wants you to know that he’s only going to continue to run for President if a magical unicorn delivers a giant bag of cash to his campaign:

I will only run if there is enough financial support to run a credible campaign. I will not borrow. I will not mail you a plea for money every month. I expect that most contributions will be small ones from fellow Americans who know the sacrifice and resolve required to solve this problem; the Americans who go to work every day, who support their families, who pay their taxes and who want to pass on to their children and grandchildren the opportunities that they have enjoyed. Americans who are tiring of supporting the “looters”; both rich and poor, who Ayn Rand described as the people who believe that their needs give them a right to other peoples property and money. Even if you don’t agree with my solutions, a pledge will help get a realistic national debate underway.

To reiterate, Lanser won’t ask you for money, and he won’t “borrow” contributions, whatever that means. But he does believe that people will give him money because, well, he’s, uh, Jerry Lester. Lanser. Whatever.

No matter what happens, Lanser should rest easy knowing that he can’t do worse than Tancredo, who registered less than 1% in national polls before he dropped out of the 2008 Presidential race. So there’s that.

Dan Maes Still Mad…At Everybody

Republican Dan Maes, the 2010 GOP nominee for Governor (it still feels weird to write that) is apparently not letting his bygones, uh, be.

We didn’t have a chance to get to this earlier in the week, but didn’t want to forget to mention it. On Tuesday, Maes sent out a long note to supporters and people who “want the truth” detailing his continued anger at Tom Tancredo, Steve Durham, Bob Beauprez, Josh Penry, etc., etc. We were forwarded Maes’ “newsletter” as it appeared on a Facebook page, and we’ve included the entire missive after the jump.

The 2010 election is old news, certainly, but it’s interesting to read Maes’ detailed account of some of the events leading up to his nomination for Governor, as well as his calling out a handful of Republicans individually:

Bob Beauprez – you broke my heart.  You mentored me and you called me from Chicago right after the assembly to congratulate me personally.  Your radio commercial was a betrayal to me and conservative voters.

Freda Poundstone – you called me 4-5 times a day, even at 7:00 AM on the weekend to snoop around while acting like you supported me.  Shame on you.  You gave 300.00 to another candidate and told him not to cash it until after his election.  The games you played.

Josh Penry – you were a hired gun that could not hit a target.  Your political capital is gone except in parts of GJ and with some of your cronies.

Greg Brophy – you sell out to whomever Penry tells you to.

Ted Harvey – be thankful for your strong R base in Douglas County.  Their loyalty to you is admirable and your loss for chair has been your chastisement.

Click after the jump to read the full “newsletter,” complete with references to The Christmas Story, Men In Black and a sermon about giving forgiveness 77 times.


Calling A Spade a Spade


There are many classic movie bullies.  One of my favorites is the kid from The Christmas Story.  You remember him don’t you?  The tall one with the coonskin cap, braces on his teeth, and a bad chip on his shoulders.  Ralphie got his vengeance one day when he finally lost his cool and pummeled the poor kid with years of rage that had built up.  A classic!

Next to the common bully or gang of thugs is the more annoying one.  Come on, you know the one.  The short one with the big mouth.  He wants to be the bully but only talks smack when his gang is around to protect him.  If he spoke without the gang he would likely get his butt kicked.

These guys are not usually welcome at the spring formal or invited to the social event of the year.  Why?  Because they are who they are, they ticked off the wrong people, or they simply went over the line one too many times and no one wants them around.  If they show up, you know there is going to be trouble and it’s better for everyone if they just stay away.

Well, the bully of the 2010 election has decided he wants to hang out with the popular kids and he just is not feeling the love (tissue please).  That’s right, Tom Tancredo has friends trying to grease the skids for him at Lincoln Day Dinners.  “Uh hem, Mrs. Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth would like to join you for dinner.  He asked me to speak for him because he felt a little uncomfortable asking for himself”.  History buffs, just go with it.

Scripture says we are to forgive not just 7 times but 77 times.  During a great sermon on unforgiveness a month ago I broke down when I was convicted for the same.  I had let my anger get between me and God and that was a bad place to be.  I chose to forgive; but forgetting is another thing.  It is extremely interesting to me that it is the offenders who preach the message of “let’s put the past behind us”.  I had done so but just this week some of you asked me to revisit some of the details in an effort to shine the light on the truth so many who were mislead will hopefully not make the same mistake again.

Premeditated Assault on the Republican Party

Remember the memory erasure in Men In Black?  The feds waved a cool device with a bright light in front of a citizens eyes to erase their most recent memory of an alien encounter.  Folks, we are not talking about the Both Ways Bob thing of 2006, nor the poor judgement of running vicious attack ads during a primary.  We are talking about the premeditated, intentional, attack of BOTH the Republican Party AND its rightfully elected candidate.  Folks, do not look into the light!

Let’s revisit the highlights:

Summer of 2009 I am told to meet with TT and his henchman Steve Durham (see loud mouth and bully above) by one of their old friends who thought I could get them on board.  TT chooses not to attend but Durham does.  The conflicting environment of the beauty of the Garden of the Gods Club and the ugly conversation that took place was prophetic of the highs and lows of campaigning.  Durham proceeded to tell me how I could not get from here to there and win.  The conversation was like a verbal whooping and intended to convince me I was irrelevant.  Then his bravado reached out toward McInnis when he stated that he would see to it that McInnis did not make it past September if he had anything to do with it.  You see, this machinery was being prepped for manufacturing their candidate, Josh Penry. Need we talk about the track record of 30 something Josh’s in Denver?&n bsp;

November 2009.  TT starts rattling his sabre about entering the race for Governor as an R. He has his shot, he chokes.

Fast forward to spring of 2010 when some no name got 40% of the caucus straw poll for Governor.  Soon appeared the websitewww.danmaescan’ .  That’s right (currently down for maintenance)!  Stay with me here folks, it gets better.  The spokesman on the website was Big Ben Goss, the leader of the American Constitution Party.   That’s right, the guy who stepped aside so TT could run on the ACP ticket.  The video droned on about the exact same thing TT had droned on to me about in private as to why I could not win, money and the lack of it as well as lack of power broker support.

Then comes a few weeks before the assembly and the rumor is that TT will try to flank both me and Scott with some floor maneuver to get on the ballot.  He will swoop in and save us all.  He chokes again.  As I said above, talk is cheap when there is no one to back it up.

Need we even revisit the ugly events of TT and Wadhams on the Boyles show?  Yes, I think so.  I never thought Dick was behind TT early on.  I think he got on board later.  The show revealed TT’s disgust with the Republican party that was backfiring at him and Dick was the face of the machine.

Finally we have the High Noon Show Down and the general election.  TT was literally demonstrating his arrogance and possibly his psychopath side.  Did anyone really think we would listen?  Did anyone really think either one would step aside?  The man who had no loyalty to the party and said multiple times, “the party is just a vehicle to accomplish my goals” was threatening the party’s candidates.  His actions would lead to the loss of the election for R’s, the loss of bonus members, and potentially lead to the party becoming a minority party.  If you do not know what that means then you have no clue what damage he could have caused all current and future R candidates!  


Can You Explain the Hysteria?

I still speak with a mentor who supported me publicly, pulled his support publicly, and then encouraged me not to drop out.  Yea, you read that right.  He jokingly challenged me  over breakfast to hire a specialist in mass human behavior to explain the quick and massive movement of support to TT when he got in once and for all.  Even he was shocked at the speed and size of it.  Many made the move for many reasons but I think most of it was the fear of backing the loser.  That is one of the most weak and politically motivated reasons I have ever seen or heard of and, in this case, reflected a temporary irrationality and lack of reason  given even the most novice of voters knew TT could not win a statewide race.


I understand the mass mentality for the average voters but some made calculated decisions to also betray the party and they must be held accountable.

Bob Beauprez – you broke my heart.  You mentored me and you called me from Chicago right after the assembly to congratulate me personally.  Your radio commercial was a betrayal to me and conservative voters.

Freda Poundstone – you called me 4-5 times a day, even at 7:00 AM on the weekend to snoop around while acting like you supported me.  Shame on you.  You gave 300.00 to another candidate and told him not to cash it until after his election.  The games you played.

Josh Penry – you were a hired gun that could not hit a target.  Your political capital is gone except in parts of GJ and with some of your cronies.

Greg Brophy – you sell out to whomever Penry tells you to.

Ted Harvey – be thankful for your strong R base in Douglas County.  Their loyalty to you is admirable and your loss for chair has been your chastisement.

There are others my Patriot friends but I fear the list is too long and they will be forgiven by their obscurity into the future.

I promised an article on Patriot Groups in this addition but that will have to wait another week.  I will explore what groups walk their talk and which ones sold out their principles for personal gain.

Until next time,

Dan Maes

Colorado Election Results Open Thread

UPDATE (11:25): The big Denver paper and many of the other big TV stations have some major problems with their reporting. The Denver Post, for example, had Buck ahead of Bennet 48-46, on the strength of a 52-45 advantage in Boulder. A quick check of the Boulder Clerk and Recorder’s website has Bennet leading Buck 67-29. There are a lot of somebodies who should have caught this immediately — there’s no way Boulder County would go solid red for any Republican.

We recommend sticking with the results from Fox 31, which not only has a page that seems to actually load correctly, but isn’t making any obvious errors that we can see.


UPDATE (11:16): It looks like we may be headed for at least one state legislative recount. In HD-29, Democratic Rep. Debbie Benefield trails Republican Robert Ramirez by 148 votes (50.34% to 49.66%).


UPDATE (11:12): That didn’t last long. With 56% of ballots counted, Bennet and Buck are now tied at 47-47.


UPDATE (11:00): Buck has pulled ahead of Bennet for the first time tonight, leading 49-46 with 49% of precincts reporting.


UPDATE (9:50): It’s looking like the race that will have the biggest impact from an ACP candidate will not be the one anybody expected. The Secretary of State race is neck-and-neck, but the ACP candidate is already pulling 6% of the vote. Buescher may well win this seat by virtue of the American Constitution Party.


UPDATE (9:44): The percentage of precincts reporting continues to rise, and Michael Bennet continues to hold a 50-45 lead over Ken Buck. This is not good news for Buck, because early returns should have favored him (Republicans voted in higher numbers than Democrats in early and absentee voting). Given Buck’s numerous gaffes in the last two weeks of the campaign, it’s not likely that late voters are going to choose him over Bennet, so it’s hard to see how Buck is going to make up 5 points with 27% of the vote already tallied.


UPDATE (9:08): It’s always fun to see those really early returns that show absurd numbers. In HD-22, Democrat Christine Radeff is pummeling Republican incumbent Ken Summers 7,875 to 12. Yes, 12. For a few more minutes, anyway.


UPDATE (9:05): Republican Cory Gardner is being declared the winner in CD-4.


UPDATE (9:03): The Secretary of State race is coming down to the wire, and may be decided by the number of votes pulled in by the American Constitution Party candidate. Meanwhile, the race for Attorney General seems to be widening in favor of incumbent John Suthers.


UPDATE (9:00): Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter has been declared the winner in CD-7.


UPDATE (8:38): The old adage that Jefferson County decides statewide elections is largely holding form. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, unofficially, are doing better in Jefferson County, as is John Suthers. Cary Kennedy and Walker Stapleton are neck-and-neck in Jeffco, while Scott Gessler leads Bernie Buescher in the large west Denver suburb.


UPDATE (8:35): Ladies and gentlemen, your next Governor…John Hickenlooper! The race has been called for Hick. Now the excitement turns to whether or not Dan Maes can cross the 10% threshold. From a Hickenlooper press release:

Colorado voters on Tuesday elected John Hickenlooper, a brewpub pioneer turned Mayor of Denver, as the 42nd Governor of Colorado.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision Colorado’s voters have made, and I accept the challenge you have entrusted to me to lead our state as Governor,” Hickenlooper said. “This is not the end of our journey. This is the beginning. And it starts with bringing people together.”


UPDATE (8:20): Here’s a couple of developing stories to watch. All of this can change, of course, but as of right now…

  • Bennet maintaining early lead on Buck

  • Hickenlooper holding early lead for Governor

  • Tipton well ahead of Salazar in CD-3

  • Kennedy surprisingly strong in Treasurer race

  • Buescher may be saved by ACP candidate for SOS

  • Third party turnout not yet playing role in CD-4

  • Attorney General race staying close

  • Every major ballot measure getting crushed

  • Both Rep. Diana DeGette (CD1) and Jared Polis (CD2) have been declared winners already
  • —–

    We’ll update results as we can. In the meantime, please keep them updated, with links, in the comments below.

    *NOTE: Candidates in bold and italics have been declared the winner by at least one local news outlet.


    Michael Bennet (D): 47%

    Ken Buck (R): 47%

    56% reporting


    John Hickenlooper (D): 51%

    Tom Tancredo (ACP): 37%

    Dan Maes (R): 11%

    48% reporting


    Cary Kennedy (D): 51%

    Walker Stapleton (R): 49%

    44% reporting


    John Suthers (R): 57%

    Stan Garnett (D): 43%

    44% reporting


    Bernie Buescher (D): 44%

    Scott Gessler (R): 50%

    Amanda Campbell (ACP): 6%

    44% reporting


    John Salazar (D): 45%

    Scott Tipton (R): 50%

    63% reporting


    Betsy Markey (D): 41%

    Cory Gardner (R): 53%

    Doug Aden (ACP): 5%

    Ken “Wasko” (I): 1%

    69% reporting


    Ed Perlmutter (D): 53%

    Ryan Frazier (R): 42%

    16% reporting

    Tom Tancredo Loses His Filter

    You didn’t really think he could make it all the way to election day, did you? We hope this clears up why, while everybody else was joining the handwringing bandwagon as American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo began his “surge,” and the absurd whitewash meme of the “new Tancredo” tried to get legs under it, our only question was how long he could keep this up.

    As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Patrick Malone reports, not long enough.

    During a campaign swing through Southern Colorado on Tuesday, Tancredo told supporters about his perception of the threat Obama poses.

    “It’s to the Constitution, to the Bill of Rights,” the Canon City Daily Record quoted him as saying. “It’s not al-Qaida, it’s the guy sitting in the White House.” [Pols emphasis]

    …At an Oct. 22 debate with his opponents, Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican Dan Maes, Tancredo defended past inflammatory statements he has made.

    The moderator pointed to past remarks by Tancredo that called for the bombing of Mecca, characterized Miami as a third-world country, whether he has the temperament to be governor, advocated literacy tests for Colorado voters and painted Obama as the greatest threat to the nation. He then asked whether Tancredo has the temperament to be governor.

    “I absolutely do not regret (the statements),” Tancredo answered.

    Our readers will recall that Tancredo said something very similar to this, at a rally for GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck just before the primary. After a couple of days of hemming and hawing, Buck agreed with Tancredo–and took hits in the press for days afterward. That was before Tancredo jumped into the gubernatorial race as a third-party candidate, of course, so Buck was the one who looked bad. Now, Tancredo’s self-inflicted wounds carry a price for himself; in addition to all the Republicans who have rallied to his standard out of desperation, amnesia, or whatever is going on.

    And that isn’t the only jaw-dropping Tancredo gaffe in this final week of campaigning–The Denver newspaper reports today that Tancredo embellished President Barack Obama’s oft-misquoted remark about how some “bitter” people “cling to guns or religion.” The thing is, Obama never mentioned “white people.” That’s, rather unsurprisingly, just what Tancredo imagined hearing.

    Or, as Tancredo said, “take the most inflammatory one I can think of and accept that it’s true.”

    Now that, dear reader, is the Tancredo we know.

    Bottom line: the gubernatorial race in Colorado has been over since several weeks before the Republican primary. All that has happened since then has been a sideshow with one possible outcome. Make that two outcomes: Governor John Hickenlooper, and a bunch of embarrassed Republicans who will spend the next few months wondering what the hell they were thinking — particularly if Dan Maes ends up with less than 10% of the vote.

    Tancredo, Maes Back and Forth on “Deal” Continues

    On Monday we posted screenshots from Facebook accounts of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes and supporter Joseph Harrington about alleged continued attempts by American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo to negotiate a way for Maes to exit the race for Governor. Tancredo and friends denied the accusations, naturally, but the story is far from over.

    As Fox 31 reports, Harrington claims to have “proof” of the discussions via a voicemail from Tancredo campaign manager Bay Buchanan:

    A voicemail has surfaced in which Bay Buchanan, Tom Tancredo’s campaign manager, can be heard inviting Dan Maes to come to the negotiating table, apparently contradicting the Tancredo campaign’s statements this week that they have not been looking to make a deal to get the embattled GOP  nominee to quit the governor’s race.

    The recorded voicemail was sent to Joe Harrington of Highlands Ranch, a Maes confidant, who posted a video of himself playing the voicemail on Facebook Thursday morning.

    “Tom is within four points of Hickenlooper,” Buchanan says in the message, which was sent at 12:56 p.m. last Friday. “It’s the time. He’s got to find somebody he trusts to talk to us, somebody who he trusts their word.

    “Give me a call if you’re interested. I won’t bother you any more if you guys aren’t, but the time is now. The time is absolutely now.”

    So what does Tancredo’s campaign have to say about this voicemail? That it’s all Harrington’s fault…or something:

    But, Buchanan says that Harrington first opened the door to negotiations last week when he walked into Tancredo’s campaign office and met with [Cliff Dodge (a Tancredo advisor)] last week — and that her voicemail was a response to his initial inquiry about a way for Maes to exit the race.

    “He came to us and indicated that Dan was tired and might be interested in getting out,” Buchanan told FOX 31. “We do not deny having many conversations with them, because we felt like we had a contact with Maes and that we might be able to work this all out. [Harrington] wanted us to put something in writing, he even mentioned specific jobs. And I sent him the law that states it’s illegal to even talk about those types of things. We said he could be involved in the campaign, but beyond that we were very clear that we couldn’t offer him a job.

    “When he asked what we could do, we told him ‘nothing’.”

    None of this is going to change the fact that Democrat John Hickenlooper is going to be elected Governor in two weeks. But at the rate this spat is going, somebody (if not several somebodies) may be looking at serious legal problems.

    It’s bad enough for Republicans that they have essentially given away the Governor’s race for a second straight cycle, but what they really don’t need is for this mess to produce serious legal challenges that include various GOP officials ending up giving depositions on potential backroom deals. From all indications, there are a lot of different people who had conversations with Maes over the last few months about getting out of the race for governor, and it’s not out of the question that many of them could be dragged in front of lawyers over the next 12 months.

    Colorado Ethics Watch earlier this week called on Maes to disclose details of any potential offers in a press release:

    Colorado law (C.R.S. § 1-45-115) provides that “No person shall offer or give any candidate or candidate committee any money or any other thing of value for the purpose of encouraging the withdrawal of the candidate’s candidacy, nor shall any candidate offer to withdraw a candidacy in return for money or any other thing of value.”  Under this law, a person who made a financial offer to Maes or his campaign in order to induce him to withdraw would violate Colorado campaign finance law even if the offer were rejected.

    “If, as it appears, Dan Maes has evidence that someone offered him money to drop out of the election, he should reveal it,” said Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch.  “Because even making an offer is illegal, it is incumbent on Maes and his campaign to disclose everything they know about any alleged offers to get him to drop out of the governor’s race.”

    Um, It’s a Little Too Late for That Now

    Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes today pointed to a post on Facebook from a supporter named Joseph Harrington about apparent continued efforts by Republicans to get Maes to leave the race for Governor.

    Talk about beating your heads against the wall. Republicans have been trying to get Maes out of the race since at least July, and he has yet to agree to any of their deals. So why would they keep trying, especially with the election just a few weeks away now? Do they really think Maes is suddenly going to decide to drop out now? Of course he isn’t, and the more that these stories continues to come out, the more that the Republicans involved risk getting exposed for obviously illegal activity (assuming this is true).

    Anyway, the Facebook postings are after the jump:

    New Rasmussen Poll Actually Bad News for Republicans

    From Rasmussen Reports:

    Is independent Tom Tancredo now becoming the de facto Republican candidate for governor of Colorado? He’s now moved to within four points of Democrat John Hickenlooper to turn the race into a toss-up.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Colorado finds Hickenlooper with 42% support, while Tancredo, the candidate of the American Constitution Party, earns 38% of the vote. Support for Republican Dan Maes continues to fall and now stands at 12%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

    Less than two weeks ago, Tancredo earned 35% of the vote to Hickenlooper’s 43% and Maes’ 16%. That shifted the race from Solid Democrat to Leans Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Gubernatorial Scorecard. Now the race moves to a Toss-Up.

    First off, we don’t believe for a second (and neither do most informed politicos in Colorado) that the governor’s race here is anything close to a toss-up. Democrat John Hickenlooper is going to be elected governor — he’s been too far ahead for too long, and he has significantly more resources than Tom Tancredo.

    But news of this poll from the notoriously right-leaning Rasmussen Reports is not actually helpful for Colorado Republicans. Tancredo is going to (rightly) tout these polling numbers as proof that he can defeat Hickenlooper, which will do two things: 1) Convince more potential Republican voters to choose Tancredo over GOP nominee Dan Maes, and 2) Give a big boost to American Constitution Party candidate Doug Aden in CD-4.

    According to Rasmussen, Maes is sitting at 12% of the vote, just two points away from falling under the 10% required to cause Republicans to lose their “major party” status. More significantly, any rise for American Constitution Party candidate Tancredo makes Aden look more credible as well, and just about every vote that Aden receives is a vote that would have otherwise gone to Republican Cory Gardner in CD-4.  

    Weak Gubernatorial Candidates Hurting Others Nationwide

    As “The Fix” reports yesterday, Democrats across the country are suffering the fallout from a weak top-of-the-ticket showing:

    Rick Snyder may be House Democrats’ biggest nightmare.

    The Michigan Republican, a former head of the Gateway computer company, is running way ahead of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) in the Wolverine State’s gubernatorial race. (A poll released Sunday gave him a 20-point advantage.) Such a wide margin for Snyder creates the potential for a down-ballot sweep that could wash out Democrats’ chances in two hotly contested House districts…

    …With Snyder leading Bernero by such a wide margin, there is considerable concern among Democratic strategists that a poor performance at the top of the ticket could make just enough difference to sway the 1st District and 7th District races against them.

    The situation in Michigan is the most extreme – but far from the only – example of how Democratic struggles at the top of the ticket could well cost the party a handful of congressional contests on Nov. 2.

    “Getting tied to an unpopular ticket hurts with swing voters, but it also makes it even harder to rally your base and get them to turn out,” said one Democratic consultant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the problem candidly…

    …In close races – and there will be lots of them at the House level in 22 days’ time – a few hundred votes can make all the difference. And that’s where a stronger-than-expected (or weaker-than-expected) than expected showing at the top of the ticket will matter – in a major way.

    There’s no mention of Colorado in this article, but Republicans stand to face the same problems with the, uh, less-than-venerable Dan Maes as the GOP candidate for governor. We’ve been saying this since even before Maes’s primary victory in August, when it became clear that the Republican Governor’s Association would not be playing in Colorado.

    As we’ve also said, this is why ballot-chasing and GOTV efforts will be so critical to many other top races. For example, Cory Gardner’s campaign in CD-4 needs to find those Republican voters — who might have lost interest in casting their ballot after watching Maes flounder around for months — and make sure they still decide to vote for him. But without RGA money in Colorado, there are fewer resources available for exactly those ballot-chase and GOTV efforts that many Republicans candidates rely upon. That’s the dangerous doubly-doozy you get with a disaster of a gubernatorial candidate like Dan Maes.

    Maes, Tancredo Fallout Could Handcuff Future GOP Fundraising

    We’ve discussed before in this space the many various repercussions that could come from the Gubernatorial candidacies of American Constitution Party (ACP) candidate Tom Tancredo and Republican Party nominee Dan Maes, but apparently the downside is even worse than we thought for the GOP.

    As we’ve written before, Colorado law designates “major party” status on any political party whose candidate receives more than 10% of the vote in a general election for Governor. Republicans who support Tancredo over Maes — their own Party’s nominee — may be crippling future Republican candidates for years to come. Check out our previous post on the perils of opening the door for more ACP candidates, but there’s a much bigger problem if Maes fails to generate 10% of the vote in November (which is very possible).

    If Maes doesn’t get 10% of the vote in November, then the Republican Party will become a “minor party” for the next four years. As the big Denver newspaper reports, this could cut in half the amount of money every Republican candidate could raise. “Major party” candidates are automatically on the ballot in both the Primary and General Election races, whether they have opponents or not. The benefit of this is that “major party” candidates can raise money for both a Primary and a General election campaign.

    But “minor party” candidates are NOT automatically placed on the Primary ballot — they only appear on the Primary ballot if they have an opponent. So if Maes gets less than 10% of the vote (which would be in part because so many Republicans supported Tancredo for Governor instead of Maes), then for the next four years Republican candidates could only raise half as much money as Democrats or ACP candidates.

    For example, an unopposed Republican candidate for State Senate in 2012 could receive a maximum contribution of $200 from each donor, while a Democrat or ACP candidate in the same race could get a $400 check from the same donor. D’Oh!

    “(The Republicans) would really be behind the eight ball on that. Maybe for governor or some statewide offices they’ll be opposed,” attorney Bill Zimsky told The Denver Post. “But there will be plenty of Senate and House seats that will be unopposed, and they’ll be totally whipsawed by this.”

    And if that happens, Republicans will have nobody to blame but themselves.

    George Culpepper Pulls a Trifecta, But Not in a Good Way

    Lynn Bartels reports over at the main Denver newspaper that Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes has hired George Culpepper to assist his campaign.

    Culpepper, you may recall, was once the campaign manager for the gubernatorial bid of Republican Scott McInnis. McInnis hired Culpepper back in September 2009, but Culpepper left the campaign just a few months later to start his own political strategy firm.

    Last spring, Culpepper started working for the gubernatorial campaign of Joe Gschwendtner, although “Joe G’s” campaign seemed designed only to discredit Maes prior to the GOP State Convention (in which Maes defeated McInnis anyway). Joe G since failed to make the ballot, ending his campaign.

    Culpepper is now back…working for Maes…despite the fact that he was once working for Maes’ chief rival…and despite the fact that he was once on a campaign that had the sole purpose of trying discredit Maes. Given the anemic fundraising of the Maes campaign, perhaps the joke is on Culpepper, whose salary can’t be much more than bologna sandwiches and pocket change for gas money.

    Nevertheless, Culpepper will have an interesting tale to tell; he’s got to be the only person in Colorado history who will have been directly involved with three failed campaigns for governor in the same election cycle. That’s hard to do.

    Tancredo Candidacy Opening Door to Future ACP Candidates

    A Colorado Pols diarist first noted last week the potential for Republicans to lose their “major party” status if gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes fails to get 10% of the vote in November. But whether or not Maes drops below that 10% threshold, it appears as though American Constitution Party (ACP) candidate Tom Tancredo will receive more than 10% of the vote in November — which means that the ACP could become a “major political party” for the next four years.

    The effect of Tancredo’s candidacy on Republicans will be felt in 2010, but the GOP could face serious problems for years because of Tanc’s run for governor. If the ACP becomes a “major political party,” then they gain the ability to nominate candidates for every office in Colorado. As a “minor” party, ACP currently can only get candidates onto the ballot in downballot races by holding a convention for that seat or by gathering petition signatures — but if Tancredo gets more than 10% of the vote in November, the ACP will essentially be able to pick candidates to run in any partisan race in Colorado. That’s bad news for Republicans, because an ACP candidate is always going to be more likely to siphon votes away from a Republican than a Democrat.  

    The other significant change that could come from “major party” status is that it would give the ACP a seat at the table in many committees that are filled by the governor. The governor is allowed to appoint committee and board members to all sorts of different commissions and boards throughout the state. Many of these commissions must contain a certain number of “major party” members (check this link for an example). Adding ACP members to Colorado boards and commissions certainly would help the resumes of potential future ACP candidates.

    Republicans who support Tancredo aren’t just making a difference in the 2010 elections — they may be crippling future Republican candidates for years to come.

    Tancredo, Poundstone’s Absolutely Vicious Anti-Maes Ad

    Wow, folks.

    Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic:

    Freda Poundstone, well-known Colorado conservative political figure, appears in a Tom Tancredo campaign ad released Tuesday in which she calls embattled Republican candidate for governor Dan Maes a con and a liar.

    “Dan Maes not only conned me out of my money, he lied to me about his background, and he deceived my friends and myself about his conservative principles,” says Poundstone, brimming with emotion. “I’ve had so many people call me and ask: What kind of a man would do that to an 83-year-old lady? and I don’t want that to happen to the voters of this state.”

    Freda Poundstone, a longtime GOP activist and one of the principal figures in this year’s “Dr. Evil” initiatives, is of course no helpless old lady–but we’ll be damned if she doesn’t play one convincingly on television.

    At the same time, it’s hard to see how attacking Dan Maes gets Tom Tancredo elected. This ad is going to hurt Maes, to be sure, but it also hurts all Republicans because Maes is at the top of the GOP ticket. Tancredo doesn’t have enough time or money to cripple Maes and damage Democrat John Hickenlooper and put out a positive message about himself.

    If the only thing Tancredo accomplishes is to bash Maes (whose campaign was already DOA), and by association, the Republican Party, then what was the point of Tancredo getting in this race? And why are so many Republicans endorsing a guy who is openly destroying another Republican?

    Who Will Win the Race for Governor?

    Since we can’t really see many of you choosing someone other than John Hickenlooper at this point, we’re going to mix the question up a bit. What do you think will be the order of finish in the race for Governor?

    Remember, we want to know what you believe will happen, not what you might want to happen. To repeat our usual description, if you had to bet everything you owned on the outcome of this race, who would you pick?

    What Will Be the Order of Finish in the Governor's Race?

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    Fundraising Updates for State Races

    The financial reporting period for state races running between July 29 through September 1 is now available online. Here’s how the statewide candidates stack up. Keep in mind that cash-on-hand amounts are deceiving at this point, since many candidates have already spent big chunks of money to buy advertising spots (with exceptions for Dan Maes and Scott Gessler, neither of whom has a good reason for having so little left in the bank).

    Figures below as Amount Raised Last Period/ Amount Spent Last Period/ Cash-on-Hand as of Sept. 1)


    John Hickenlooper (D): $409,859/ $357,158/ $171,542

    Tom Tancredo (ACP): $199,229/ $58,376/ $140,853

    Dan Maes (R): $50,201/ $54,011/ $19,786


    Cary Kennedy (D): $102,161/ $89,189/ $90,250

    Walker Stapleton (R): $27,385/ $15,880/ $22,712


    John Suthers (R): $64,958/ $15,671/ $346,775

    Stan Garnett (D): $43,690/ $120,342/ $23,259


    Bernie Buescher (D): $36,158/ $8,708/ $139,661

    Scott Gessler (R): $13,745/ $38,071/ $14,725

    Republicans Trying to Get Tancredo Thrown Off Ballot

    As Eli Stokols at “Fox 31” reports:

    Lawyers will meet Tuesday afternoon to schedule preliminary hearings on a suit that aims to keep Tom Tancredo’s name off the November ballot…

    …The lawsuit, filed in Denver Tuesday morning by voters from Highlands Ranch and Golden, challenges the certification Friday of Tancredo on the November ballot by arguing that he switched parties too late…

    …”Tancredo and Miller’s last-minute nominations are the result of, in the Tancredo campaign’s own words, ‘inter-party squabling’,” the lawsuit states. “Tancredo’s ACP nomination is nothing more or less than a failed gambit to force the duly nominated Republican candidate for Governor, Dan Maes, to withdraw his candidacy.

    The plaintiffs are Joe Harrington, a voter from Highlands Ranch, and Marian Olson, a voter from Golden.

    They emphasized that they were filing this action to challenge the ballot certification in their individual capacity only, and not on behalf of any candidate, political party, or other organization.

    Marian Olson is a wealthy Jefferson County Republican well known in Golden for regular attempts at suing the city for one thing or another (she was also a prime backer of the failed recall election attempt in Golden in 2009).

    Olson initially filed an action in Jefferson County District Court last Friday asking the court to remove Tancredo from the general election ballot. District Court Judge Tamara Russel held a hearing Friday afternoon in which The Colorado Attorney General’s office, representing the Secretary of State, argued that the case was improperly filed in Jefferson County because under the venue rules, the Secretary of State can only be sued in Denver District Court.  The Secretary of State also argued that Tancredo and the American Constitution Party must be parties to the action. Judge Russel ruled only on the venue issue and ordered the case transferred to Denver District Court, where it is being discussed today.

    Maes Agrees to 10 Debates with Hickenlooper

    That loud “D’Oh!” you hear is coming from Republican strategists all across Colorado.

    According to a joint press release sent out by the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican Dan Maes (full release after the jump), the two candidates have agreed to 9 more debates through Oct. 29. This is terrible news for Republicans in Colorado, because every time Maes opens his mouth there is a serious risk that he will say something completely absurd, and the lead story in the media will be “Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Maes Said _________ Today.”

    Ordinarily, in a race like this with a clear leader heading into mid-September, the frontrunner would be doing everything possible to duck more debates. But this is not an ordinary race, and the more that Hickenlooper gets to contrast himself with Maes, the better off the results for all Democrats.

    Most voters may not associate Maes with other Republican candidates in Colorado, but some will, and a debate schedule like this just increases the chances that Maes will damage the Republican “brand” for the General Election. The odds of this happening will only increase as Election Day nears and polls still show Maes to be far behind Hickenlooper; any “Hail Mary” passes that Maes feels like he has to toss are more than likely going to be wounded ducks instead, and a media corps already bored of the governor’s race will be more than happy to point that out.


    The Republican and Democratic nominees for governor pledged today in a joint press release to run campaigns specific to the issues, and they agreed to a fall debate schedule.

    Dan Maes and John Hickenlooper agreed to 10 debates, including the Colorado Decides 2010 “Gubernatorial General Election Debate” that aired last week.

    “Coloradans are sick and tired of the personal attacks that tend to typify election season,” Maes said. “John and I will engage each other on the issues on these 10 occasions and at numerous other forums and smaller events to let Colorado voters decide whose vision for the state they prefer.”

    Hickenlooper said he appreciated the commitment to a substantive campaign from Maes.

    “Dan and I have had healthy disagreements on various issues throughout the campaign so far, but I respect the way he has campaigned with class and respect,” Hickenlooper said. “I’m confident our joint commitment to discuss the issues facing our state will mean the rest of the country takes note of Colorado as a place that does things the right way.”

    In addition to the agreed upon debates, both campaigns will participate in numerous forums on a range of issues before Election Day.

    The debate schedule is based on invitations the campaigns received and joint availability of the candidates. Any decision on inviting third-party candidates is up to the individual event sponsors.

    The Maes and Hickenlooper campaigns have formally agreed to the following debates:

    Sept. 2:            Colorado Decides 2010 “Gubernatorial General Election Debate;” Denver

    Sept. 11:          Club 20; Grand Junction

    Sept. 17:          Progressive 15; Loveland

    Sept. 25:          Action 22; Colorado Springs

    Oct. 5:             Channel 7; Denver

    Oct. 12            Pueblo Chieftain; Pueblo

    Oct. 13:           The Denver Post/ 9news; Denver

    Oct. 14            Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry; Denver

    Oct. 22            Fox 31; Denver

    Oct. 29            CBS 4; Denver

    Bennet Leads Buck as Third Party Candidates Pull Votes

    New bipartisan polling data released today shows the U.S. Senate race to be a dead heat, while the race for Governor is what we all thought it was — in the bag for Democrat John Hickenlooper.

    According to the polling memo, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet leads Republican Ken Buck 43-40, while Hickenlooper (48%) is running away with the Governor’s race over both Republican Dan Maes (25%) and American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo (15%):

    A recently conducted survey of Colorado voters conducted by the bi-partisan research team of Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (R) and David Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (D) highlights two very different races at the “top of the ticket” in Colorado. The results of the survey show a dead heat for U.S. Senate with Republican Ken Buck and Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet’s support within margin of error of the other (43% Bennet and 40% Buck). The data also shows how general antipathy toward both parties is having an impact on electoral politics this year, as a Libertarian candidate garners 5% of the vote – greater than the margin between the two major party candidates.

    “The anti-Washington sentiment and general political environment would seemingly be working against Bennet,” stated Lori Weigel. “Incumbents tend to receive what they see in the polling, with undecided voters more likely to opt for change. However, this year, with disgust at politics and both parties running high, we have the potential for relatively unknown third party candidates to siphon off enough votes to change traditional campaign dynamics.” [Pols emphasis]

    That last quote from Weigel is what we were talking about last week when we said that any poll in CD-4 that doesn’t include the third-party candidates on the ballot is inaccurate. Also particularly interesting to note is that the poll shows 85% of Democrats backing Bennet but only 76% supporting Buck, which is understandable given Buck’s far-right positions on many issues.

    As for the Governor’s race:

    The gubernatorial race appears to be a foregone conclusion, barring a fundamental shift in the race dynamics. Democrat John Hickenlooper is capturing 48% of the statewide vote, compared to just 25% opting for Republican Dan Maes and 15% selecting Tom Tancredo, running on the American Constitution Party label. Whether Tancredo is siphoning off GOP support that could have been available, or whether Maes’ self-inflicted wounds have boosted Tancredo’s support is open to interpretation. However, the former Congressman’s presence on the ballot and Maes’ continued problems appear to have all but sealed Democratic retention of the Governor’s mansion…

    …Even before all of the prominent withdrawals of endorsements, rank and file Republicans’ support for their party’s nominee was tepid. Just 50% of Republicans say they would vote for Maes if the election was being held today, while 24% defect to Tancredo and 12% to Hickenlooper. This stands in stark contrast to Hickenlooper’s support within his party, as 84% of Democrats choose their party’s nominee for Governor.

    Worst Week in Colorado #3

    It’s time for another edition of “Worst Week in Colorado,” where we ask Colorado Pols readers who it is who had the worst week in Colorado politics.

    Previous winners (or losers) include Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams and former GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. Our nominee this week is the Colorado Republican Party and Establishment in general, for its shamelessly apparent attempts to discredit Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes and force him out of the race so that they can appoint someone else.

    We had no problem with the GOP trying to get Maes out of the race prior to the Primary, or even soon afterwards, but this week the process took on a whole new level of desperate absurdity. If they can’t get Maes to agree to any sort of plan to bow out of the race, they could at least try to do it a little quieter while not openly poking in the eye the hundreds of thousands of Republicans who, for whatever reason, did vote for him in the Primary.

    Who, or what, else would you nominate for “Worst Week in Colorado” this week?

    Who Had the Worst Week in Colorado This Week?

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    Last-Ditch Attempt to Force Maes Out Underway?

    THURSDAY UPDATE #6: The Wall Street Journal puts Dan Maes’ name in lights again, accorded the no-small honor of Quote of the Day:

    Enjoy the ride, Mr. Maes. Whatever happens tomorrow, he’s writing his poetry and the newspapers are printing it.

    THURSDAY UPDATE #5: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols Tweets from today’s debate:

    THURSDAY UPDATE #4: This is all becoming really very silly. Former Senate President, and Republican right-wing standard bearer, John Andrews issued this statement this morning:

    This morning I called Dan Maes to withdraw my endorsement and urge him to end his candidacy, for the public good.  As a conscientious Republican who earlier voted for Dan, I cannot support a manifestly unfit nominee.  He has flunked his job interview with the people of Colorado in the weeks since Scott McInnis faded.  The party should cut Maes loose if he does not resign the nomination.  I intend to write in a vote for Jane Norton for Governor. [Pols emphasis]

    Jane Norton? This makes perfect sense. Try to kick out someone who won the Republican primary in order to replace him with someone who lost a primary election of her own. We’ve absolutely reached the point where this is causing more harm than good for Republicans, whether or not they can convince Maes to withdraw.


    THURSDAY UPDATE #3: There is a Gubernatorial debate scheduled to be taped today at Noon as a joint production between Colorado Public Television (CPT12) and CBS 4. The debate is scheduled to air at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow, which could be a bit odd if Maes did withdraw from the race.


    THURSDAY UPDATE #2: Moments ago, Dan Maes posted this defiant-sounding update to his Facebook page. Does this read like a man about to pull out of this race?

    THURSDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Statesman’s Jody Strogoff confirms much of this story in a detailed must-read report this morning: renewed pressure to withdraw, a few days of expressed leeway by the Secretary of State’s office should a vacancy committee be necessary, and a twist you may not have expected: Bob Beauprez waiting in the wings?

    According to sources in the Colorado Republican Party and elsewhere interviewed Wednesday by The Colorado Statesman, major escalating problems and daunting revelations about Maes’ gubernatorial candidacy – with still more possible bombshells to drop – could unravel any hopes Maes has to stay on as the GOP standard bearer by Friday, prompting the state party to convene a special vacancy committee to select a new nominee after the required five-day advance notice. If that happened, the meeting could be held Tuesday, Sept. 7, and a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said that even though the general election ballot is set to be certified this Friday, Sept. 3, there is probably enough wiggle room for county clerks to update ballots next week if necessary…

    Although Wadhams would not discuss possible scenarios for replacing his party’s nominee, he confirmed Wednesday night that the required five-day advance notice under state election law would allow a vacancy committee to meet as early as next Tuesday, if it became necessary. Colorado secretary of state spokesman Richard Coolidge confirmed that county clerks have some leeway to order ballots printed, and agreed that changes could still be made…

    “I’m flattered,” Beauprez said when asked whether he might step in. “What I have told them is that, if a vacancy were ever to occur, I’d entertain the phone call to think about it seriously. I like to think I have plenty of gas in the tank and plenty to give. But it’s a bit idle (to talk about) now. First things first,” Beauprez cautioned.

    That being said, Beauprez acknowledged that he would be “a better candidate than I was in 2006,” and emphasized that he has learned from that experience.

    “I believe that was a job that had my experience and credentials and passion written all over it,” he said about the governor’s race four years ago. “That hasn’t changed. I still have another rodeo in me. If that vacancy were to occur, I would take the candidacy discussion very seriously,” he said.

    Original post follows–major developments likely today.

    A series of events in the last 24 hours leaves us more or less convinced that GOP leadership has commenced one final concerted attempt to force gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes out of the race. This morning, the Denver newspaper published long-rumored information about Maes’ brief record as a police officer in Kansas, showing where Maes has possibly embellished his record and subsequently removed said embellishments from his campaign website.

    It’s not a new story–inferences about Maes’ time as a cop in Liberal, Kansas 25 years ago, a job from which he was fired, have been widely circulated. We’re not downplaying the story, because it’s obviously the last thing Maes needs, but the story certainly doesn’t seem any worse than, for example, Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois–who despite revelations of much bigger exaggerations about his military service record remains the GOP’s nominee for U.S. Senate in that state.

    But it seems to be the pretext that Colorado GOP kingpins were looking for.

    We’ve reported in this space about at least two not-so-secret attempts by GOP chairman Dick Wadhams and other powerbrokers to force Maes out since his narrow primary win over Scott McInnis at the beginning of the month. Today, allegedly on the strength of this report about Maes’ history as a police officer, Karen Crummy reports at the Denver newspaper’s blog that former Sen. Hank Brown is withdrawing his endorsement of Maes, and Bob Beauprez is calling on Maes to pull out, while Allison Sherry writes that leading “9/12” groups in the state are demanding a meeting with Maes before the end of the week. Maes himself was summoned to DC on a red-eye flight this morning according to FOX 31’s Eli Stokols–either for recommitment from the Republican Governor’s Association like his spokesman hopes, but more likely something else.

    First of all, we don’t buy that the “9/12” groups–who, mind you, are not the ‘Tea Party’ and subject to their own influences–are spontaneously rising up against Maes, any more than we think Hank Brown didn’t know all about Maes when he endorsed him. After everything Republican leadership have themselves done to force Maes out since his victory over the tainted McInnis, there’s very little question who is orchestrating this avalanche of bad press for Maes, slamming home just as the last day his name can be replaced on ballots approaches.

    Look, folks, we’ve been clear about our estimation of Maes’ chance at winning the governor’s race, and we understand on a bare strategic level why Wadhams and the other Republican kingmakers want him out. But what you are seeing play out here, far too publicly, is seriously jeopardizing prospects for GOP success in Colorado–up and down the ticket. What they’re basically asking is for the voters to get behind a fourth gubernatorial candidate: after forcing Josh Penry out of the race, watching McInnis self-immolate, and now with the Republican brass trying one last time to veto the choice made by almost 200,000 Republican rank-and-file voters.

    And for all the angst about Maes among GOP leadership, why don’t the voters share it?

    Tom Tancredo is substantially underperforming expectations in polls. Obviously, with a Congressional resume, long history, and very high name recognition, Tancredo has assets in his favor that should make him competitive with Maes–especially as Maes stumbles–but his numbers have steadily declined from their peak. As Tancredo’s numbers have unexpectedly weakened, and as Maes has weathered repeated attempts to force him out, many Republicans we’ve talked to have been more interested in stabilizing the situation so they can proceed where they have an advantage–not another day of uncertainty in the governor’s race. They said so a couple of weeks ago when Wadhams acted as Tancredo’s emissary in that attempt to force Maes out of the race.

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the negative reports on Maes in the last few days that either was not known or warrants on merit another attempt to force Maes out. And yet here we are.

    With all the stops pulled out in a last-ditch effort to have their way, hoping Friday’s important-yet-obscure deadline can be beat without inspiring rebellion, there’s just not a lot of pretense left to hide behind. And you can’t tell us, no matter how optimistic Republicans are for success across the nation, that this weakness and disorganization at the top of Colorado’s Republican ticket doesn’t imperil much more than this race.

    As for Maes? What possible incentive could you offer him to not ride this coaster all the way? Maes is the only man on either side with absolutely, positively nothing to lose here.

    Big-Name Republicans Backing Hickenlooper

    As Jody Strogoff of The Colorado Statesman reports, major Republican donors Larry Mizel, Greg Maffei and Fred Hamilton are co-sponsoring a big fundraising lunch on Sept. 22 for Democrat John Hickenlooper’s campaign for Governor:

    With Mizel, Maffei and Hamilton out of the closet, so to speak, others will likely follow.

    Mizel, chairman and chief executive officer of M.D.C. Holdings, Inc., is also one of Colorado’s major political players, although most of his activities are behind the scenes. Between 1989 and 2006, Mizel and his wife are reported to have contributed about one million dollars to federal candidates, PACs, and political parties; 94 percent went to Republican candidates and party committees. His large donations, which have continued over the last few years, have placed Mizel among the nation’s top 100 political contributors.

    Mizel wasn’t supporting McInnis for governor, and clearly won’t be lending his name to Maes. But rather than having his endorsement of Hickenlooper construed as anti-Republican, Mizel views it simply as a smart business decision. He says Hickenlooper provides bipartisan leadership that is good for the city, good for the state, and good for business in general.

    Hickenlooper, Mizel says, has shown his brilliance in terms of economic development leadership and will do well in reestablishing Colorado as a state that welcomes growth and development, business and a good quality of life…

    …Greg Maffei also has a strong personal relationship with Hickenlooper. According to a profile in the Denver Post a few months ago, the Liberty Media Corp. chief executive was one of the first people Hickenlooper turned to when he was considering whether to run for governor. Maffei told Hickenlooper he thought the job was a good fit and urged him to run.

    Maffei has strong Republican Party ties, here in Colorado as finance director for the state Republican Party, and as a major figure in Sen. John McCain’s political activities over the years.

    As the Statesman story points out, expect to see more major Republican donors migrating to Hickenlooper. After all, these guys didn’t make their money by betting big on long shots.  

    BREAKING: Republicans Meeting with Maes Today on Pulling Out

    SATURDAY AM UPDATE: As we suspected, Dan Maes is not proving agreeable to ‘suggestions’ that he exit the race–posted to his Facebook profile last night:

    To be clear, the story is about high-level Republicans wanting Maes to get out of the race, or failing that to select a running mate from their approved roster. The only part of the “rumor” he has control over is his response–and for the time being anyway, there you have it.

    UPDATE: In this video from a gubernatorial debate between Scott McInnis and Dan Maes at the end of last month, McInnis strongly defends Maes (and himself) from any attempt after the primary to force either of them from the race. McInnis calls attempts to force either of them out a “bait and switch,” and flatly states it would be “out of line” to go against the choice of primary voters.

    No doubt he still thinks so.

    Top Republican “emissaries” are meeting with Republican Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes today in an attempt to convince him to drop out of the race and let the GOP replace him with someone else.

    According to an anonymous Republican source, GOP Chair Dick Wadhams is not among those involved in the meeting in an effort to keep some official distance from the process. The message from Republicans is that there will be no outside money and no fundraising assistance for Maes if he stays in the race, but if he drops out there could be support for him for future opportunities.

    Republican leaders have been conspicuous in their public silence about Maes, and that silence was apparently part of the plan leading up to today’s meeting. Top Republicans wanted to let Maes have a few days to himself after the election, hoping that their lack of attention would show him that he doesn’t have the support he would need to win in November.

    From what we have heard over the last 24 hours, however, Maes is unlikely to agree to any terms that would see him remove himself from the race for Governor because he truly believes that he has earned the nomination. As part of a last-ditch effort, top Republicans may try to get Maes to agree to their choice for a running mate, in hopes that a stronger Lieutenant Governor could be in a position to take over the ballot at some point.

    It’s important to keep in mind that these discussions are not really about finding a candidate who can win the governor’s race in November. As we first reported in mid-July, Republicans recognize that their chances at beating Democrat John Hickenlooper are close to zero. What they want now is to find someone who can excite the GOP base and not be a drag on the ticket — both for Ken Buck’s U.S. Senate bid and for the downballot races. Maes can’t win, and neither can a potential replacement; but at least a potential replacement isn’t regularly being mocked both locally and nationally as a joke of a candidate. Maes’ much-discussed “U.N. Bicycle Plot” is bad enough when he’s just one of several candidates running in a Primary, but now it’s the Republican candidate for Governor saying these things. That’s a lot different.

    Whatever the decision, Republicans don’t have a lot of time to make it; the Secretary of State certifies the ballot on Sept. 3. A replacement candidate could still be programmed into the voting machines for early and Election Day voting, but the new name likely wouldn’t make it onto the early mail ballot if something wasn’t done before Sept. 3.

    McInnis Isn’t Going Anywhere, But What About Maes?

    Earlier we pointed you to a Politico story about former State Senator and former GOP Senate candidate Tom Wiens trying to throw his hat into the ring for Governor, should Republicans figure out a way to replace either Scott McInnis or Dan Maes on the ballot.

    From what we’ve heard lately from top Republicans, however, there is probably no scenario whereby McInnis drops out of the race if he wins the Primary on Tuesday. Why not? The reasons are pretty simple:

    First off, Republicans have nothing to offer in exchange for McInnis exiting the race. McInnis is so politically damaged, both within his Party and among Democrats and Unaffiliated voters, that this is his last chance to run for higher office. Dick Wadhams can’t say, “Pull out of the race, and we’ll promise to support you for (fill in the blank) in 2012 or 2014.” McInnis can’t run again; he knows it, Republicans know it, donors know it, everyone knows it. If you look at it from McInnis’ perspective, the only real political option he has is to stay in the race for Governor and hope for some sort of miracle that sweeps him to victory.

    McInnis’ contract with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson is about up (or has already expired). Because of his plagiarism scandals, the general aura of mistrust that surrounds him, and (as we hear it) a not particularly stellar last couple of years with the law firm, McInnis doesn’t have any place to land if he pulls out of the race for Governor (not that he really needs it, since McInnis has a good degree of personal wealth). So, again, he might as well keep going.

    The only rationale that would potentially convince McInnis to leave the race would be the old “do it for the good of the Party” speech, but that doesn’t work, either. For one thing, McInnis has never been considered a guy who is overly interested about doing what’s right for the Republican Party. And with Tom Tancredo’s entrance into the race on the American Constitution Party ticket, you can’t really argue that a McInnis replacement would be any more likely to win the seat anyway.

    So McInnis is almost certainly going to stay in the race for Governor should he win the GOP Primary, but what about Dan Maes? Some of the rationales mentioned above would probably be pretty enticing for Maes. Even if he makes it out of the Primary, he’s clearly not going to win the General Election because he’s proven to be too inexperienced as a campaigner and a little too nutty when he opens his mouth. But Republicans could perhaps convince Maes that there is a future for him in elected office…just not now.

    Maes also seems to need a job, since his business acumen hasn’t generated much wealth and he’s been using his campaign funds to (ahem) pay for mileage in dubiously large increments. If Republicans could offer him some sort of paid Party position, and/or promise to support him for another (more realistic) race down the line, we’d have to think that Maes would at least seriously consider the offer.

    But that brings us back to Tancredo again. With Tancredo in the race, does any of this even matter? If Republicans can’t convince Tancredo to withdraw, then they could resurrect zombie Ronald Reagan for three months and they still couldn’t find enough votes to beat Democrat John Hickenlooper.

    Republicans are definitely not going to convince McInnis to pull out of the Governor’s race if he wins the Primary, but they might be able to convince Maes to step aside. Either way, it’s hard to see how any of this keeps Hickenlooper out of the Governor’s Mansion.

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    McInnis, Norton Leading Respective Primaries?

    Today “The Fix” provides its list of the 10 most interesting primary fights in the country, and Colorado’s Republicans made it into two of the top three!

    Most interesting, however, is that “The Fix” notes that Scott McInnis leads Dan Maes by 15 points in the race for the Gubernatorial nomination, while Jane Norton may now be leading Ken Buck 45-40 in the Senate Primary:

    3. Colorado governor (R, Aug. 10): What happens if you hold a primary and the party regulars don’t want either candidate to win? That’s what’s happening in Colorado at the moment with scandal-plagued Scott McInnis (plagiarism) and Dan Maes (campaign finance violations) battling it out. A survey shown to the Fix and conducted by a Republican pollster in the last few days put McInnis ahead by 15. If he manages to win the nomination, there will be a major push by establishment Republicans to push him out. But will McInnis go? (Previous ranking: N/A)…

    1. Colorado Senate (R, Aug. 10): Just when Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck looked like he was going to pull off an upset against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, he made a series of impolitic comments — the most potentially damaging of which was calling elements of the Tea Party “dumbasses”. A poll conducted by a major Republican firm looking in at the governor’s race in the last few days showed Norton ahead 45 percent to 40 percent, which suggests that Buck has incurred considerable political damage. (Previous ranking: 3)

    GOP Governor Disaster Could Topple Ticket

    We’ve talked before about the negative effects that could affect the entire Republican ticket given their meltdown in the Governor’s race. Today MSNBC takes a look at the carnage and offers a sobering historical lesson for Republicans:

    There’s at least one previous case of GOP intra-party turmoil in one race spilling over into down-ballot races.

    “The clearest recent example of a gubernatorial downdraft is Ohio 2006,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney. “The incumbent GOP governor (Bob Taft) had been ensnared in scandal and his party’s candidate to replace him (Ken Blackwell) was unpopular. Together with bad national trends, trouble at the top of the ticket helped bring down incumbent senator Mike DeWine and cost the GOP a couple of House seats.”

    Now, obviously those national trends that benefited Democrats in 2006 are not there in 2010. But a race like CD-4 could come down to the wire, and the Republican troubles at the top of the ticket could mean the difference for Rep. Betsy Markey.

    UPDATE: To wit, Politico’s Kasie Hunt, who we’re pretty sure had never once written about–or even heard of–the American Constitution Party before Tom Tancredo made it famous:

    Former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo’s rogue bid for governor, already imperiling the GOP’s shot at the state’s top office, could also dim Republican prospects for knocking off first-term Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey in the 4th Congressional District.

    That’s because Tancredo’s running on the ticket of the conservative American Constitution Party- a minor third-party ballot line that happens to include a candidate, Doug Aden, running in Markey’s district. A statewide campaign that draws attention to Aden’s party might give him the kind of lift that would make him a spoiler for Republican state Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign…

    This is turning into a pretty big deal for this formerly-insignificant minor party–Tancredo’s high profile and strong support on the hard right are certain to give the ACP the broadest exposure in its history. And given that “Tea Party” and related groups are already nonplussed by GOP nominee Gardner after his run-in with Steve King a few weeks ago, the danger of Aden peeling off votes from Gardner is bigger than first impressions might suggest.