Colorado Republicans were like ducks on a pond Thursday.
On the surface, party members seemed calm and poised, but underneath they were madly paddling as they tried to fathom what has happened to their chances of winning the governor’s mansion in November.
Party officials wouldn’t speak on the record about what was being discussed, but several GOP sources said under the condition of anonymity that many of the telephone calls between party members throughout the day centered on what would happen if Scott McInnis withdrew from the Aug. 10 primary; whether his opponent, Dan Maes, really has the wherewithal to win the general election; and whether McInnis would try to win the primary and then withdraw, allowing the party to choose someone else to run against Democrat John Hickenlooper.
Meanwhile, some party members, conservative talk-show hosts and three major newspapers in the state have called on McInnis to drop out.
Former congressman Tom Tancredo told a Denver television station Thursday that McInnis no longer has the ability to win in November after his admission that he plagiarized work done by a Glenwood Springs researcher he hired and Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs.
Conservative talk-show host Dan Caplis of KHOW radio in Denver came out Wednesday calling for McInnis to withdraw, and the Denver Post ran an editorial the day before saying the same thing.
Now, two other major newspapers in the state, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Fort Collins Coloradoan, have followed suit.
Secretary of State Bernie Buescher said Thursday he had received numerous inquiries about what the law was on various scenarios related to McInnis.
The former Grand Junction legislator, however, said he wouldn’t rule on “hypothetical questions.”
“At this point, no decision will be given to speculation that may impact a current and actual contest,” Buescher said in a statement. “Any conclusions reached by my office to these inquiries may potentially have an unintentional effect on an ongoing race.”
Meanwhile, others are saying McInnis and his GOP rival, Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, have made serious errors that will have an impact in the elections.
Maes got in hot water earlier this month when he agreed to pay $17,500 in fines after a Grand Junction man filed a complaint against him, alleging Maes violated campaign-finance laws. That complaint, filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, said Maes improperly reimbursed himself for more than $40,000 in mileage costs, accepted a corporate donation and failed to report required details on several other donations.
“Scott has been a friend for many years, and I have appreciated his many accomplishments on behalf of Colorado,” said Jane Norton, candidate for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. “But it’s obvious he’s made a very serious mistake, and frankly Dan Maes has, too. I have said it in my own race, character and integrity matter.”
Rep. Laura Bradford said the party should consider rethinking its strategy given the recent developments.
The Collbran Republican said the party has a good chance of winning a majority in the Colorado House and Senate, and it should consider putting money into those races it might otherwise have spent on the governor’s race. Bradford said Republicans have good candidates that can recapture seats lost to the Democrats in recent yeas in traditionally Republican districts.
“If it comes down to funding,” Bradford said. “I think it’s time for the (GOP) caucus to take a fresh look and say, ‘How can we shore these races,’ and make sure that over the next three-and-a-half months every dime is spent where they’re going to make a difference.”