governor's race

Scotch verdict on McInnis-Maes

What is called in the law a Scotch verdict, an agnostic shrug of "not proved," is my sad and reluctant conclusion about next week's Republican primary for Governor of Colorado. At present I cannot support either of the two candidates.

I was intrigued with the businessman-outsider persona of dark horse Dan Maes, and went so far as to float the case for him in my Denver Post column last Sunday, posted below left as "Maes and the Medicine." But as the evidence mounts, I deem the case very insufficient.

Dan Maes is not ready for prime time and seemingly not who he has claimed to be.

Scott McInnis has seen too much prime time, and Colorado is not ready for who we know him to be.

Which is regrettable for two public-spirited Coloradans, fundamentally decent men with devoted families -- and even more regrettable for our state, which so urgently needs the limited-government leadership a qualified Republican could provide right now.

Where does this leave us on the morning of August 11 when one of these two is officially the GOP nominee? Attractive and viable options are slim to none.

A ticket-replacement maneuver is imaginable but unlikely. A plurality victory for Constitution candidate Tom Tancredo is also unlikely; Tom is my friend but won't get my vote.

Are we looking at a handshake from outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter to incoming Gov. John Hickenlooper next January, Democrats retaining power against all odds after botching things so badly the past four years? What a pity if it comes to that.

Is Maes the man?

For a governor who will turn Colorado right, Republican businessman Dan Maes is "the man for the moment," says John Andrews in the July round of Head On TV debates, reacting to the implosion of previous front-runner Scott McInnis. Susan Barnes-Gelt has scathing words for both GOP contenders while ignoring John Hickenlooper, her fellow Democrat. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Afghanistan, Arizona, the Dems' risk of losing Congress, and Colorado contests for Attorney General, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for July: 1. GOVERNOR’S RACE GETS WEIRD

John: Colorado has not done well with a liberal Democrat as governor. The budget is a disaster and the economy is hurting. Trading Ritter for Hickenlooper won’t change that. We need a conservative governor who is pro-jobs, pro-growth, and pro-taxpayer. The obvious choice is Republican businessman Dan Maes.

Susan: So let’s see – candidate Scott McInnis is a liar/plagarist and Maes is a cheat admittedly defying campaign finance laws. And we want one of these two leading our state? Your suggesting that a cheat trumps a plagarist/liar? A real Hobson’s choice I’d say. You’ve set the bar pretty low, John.

John: McInnis was better suited to lead Colorado than liberal John Hickenlooper, but he forfeited trust with fatal mistakes, so scratch them both. Meanwhile the McInnis legal team, fearing conservative outsider Dan Maes, bloodied him on a minor violation. Dirty stuff. But the incorruptible Maes is still the man for the moment.

Susan: You'd better hope McInnis stays in, wins the August 10 primary, drops out and let's the Republican party select a new candidate. Otherwise you're saying that cheater cheater pumpkin eater is a better choice than liar liar pants on fire?


John: Colorado voters have a choice to make on several statewide offices with low visibility but high importance. If you believe Obamacare is unconstitutional, reelect Attorney General John Suthers. He’s challenging it in court. If you worry about tax increases and voter fraud, support Republicans for Treasurer and Secretary of State.

Susan: Suthers is exactly the wrong choice for Attorney General.† He's already politicized the office of the people's lawyer by calling for do not retain votes for Democratic State Supreme Court justices.† And incumbent Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Secretary of State Bernie Buescher are terrific.

John: Despite a governor’s race in turmoil, supporters of liberty and limited government have strong options for other constitutional offices. Scott Gessler for Secretary of State will guard against election fraud. John Suthers for Attorney General is a tough lawman. J. J. Ament or Walker Stapleton for Treasurer will stand up for TABOR.

Susan: Your Republican candidates must clarify whether they’re for or against Prop 101 and Amendments 60 & 61-poised to devastate Colorado’s already hamstrung economy, crippling school districts and local government, Ament, Stapleton, Gessler & Suthers must oppose. Why run for an office you want to destroy?


John: The US government has a constitutional duty to protect each state against invasion. Bush and Obama have given the people of Arizona no such protection, ignoring federal law. Gov. Jan Brewer did the only reasonable thing and signed a state law to resist the flood of illegal aliens. Good for Arizona!

Susan: Yes, immigration is the purview of the federal government.† Imagine the chaos if every state set its own immigration policy.† Why not monetary policy, defense policy, or aviation protocols?† Local control is fine, but immigration policy is a federal issue.† D's and R's better step up.

John: Unlike Obama’s attorney general and his homeland security secretary, I’ve read the Arizona immigration bill. It neither allows racial profiling nor usurps federal authority. It simply mirrors the federal law that Obama refuses to enforce. Colorado should pass the same thing – another reason to vote Republican this fall.

Susan: Requiring local law enforcement to check immigration status of those stopped for other offences, detaining them until they provide id’s, is a blatant attempt to usurp federal authority – burdening law enforcement and citizens. Federal databases aren’t well integrated, complete or accurate. It’s a nightmare any way you look at it.


Susan: The suicide rate among our troops is at an all-time high.† Service men and women are being deployed three and four times to Afghanistan in an untenable conflict.† We can't trust President Karzai, and we must make a deal with the Taliban.† Obama and Petraeus need an exit strategy.

John: Obama is wrong about many things, but he’s right that we must not lose Afghanistan to a jihadist enemy sworn to destroy us. If we surrender to the jihadists there, they will next take Pakistan with its nuclear arsenal. Islamic holy warriors with nukes -- what a nightmare.

Susan: And what about Iran? Our Afghan policy isn’t working. Richard Haass, conservative head of the Council on Foreign Relations is right in saying we can’t achieve lasting results and its time to scale down our ambitions, it’s not worth the cost in blood and treasure.

John: What about Iran? Ahmadinejad has been making hay out of US weakness for the last two administrations. Walking away from Afghanistan and Pakistan would only embolden the nuclear-bound Iranians and further endanger America. Resisting this triple enemy, bent on mayhem, is absolutely worth the cost.


Susan: Mid-term elections never bode well for the incumbent party.† This fall the Dems are vulnerable.† On the other hand, Tea Party libertarians and the prospect of John "The financial crisis is just an ant" Boehner as House Speaker are frightening.† Frustrated Americans will vote for sanity.

John: Obama’s falling poll numbers translate into a two-year report card no better than C. That would be C as in Carter, who fumbled both the economy and foreign policy. And C as in Clinton, who saw his fellow Democrats swept from power in Congress at mid-term. The endless recession has voters disgusted.

Susan: And the folks who gave us Wall Street abuses, deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, deficit spending and foreign policy based on lies, deceit and nation building – that would be R’s – are just the ones to lead us back to Clinton’s budget surpluses? And the dog ate my homework!

John: It’s the economy, uh, sister. Americans don’t expect miracles -- but after this long, with so little progress on reducing unemployment and boosting prosperity, the Democrats in power are due for a spanking. My Republicans are far from perfect, but look for them to take back Congress this November.

Business beware: Hick & Ritter are faking

How convenient, now that Bill Ritter is no longer running for governor and John Hickenlooper is hoping to succeed him, Hick suddenly discovers after months of silence that the incumbent Democrat was "anti-business" in brutalizing the oil and gas industry last year and "crazy" in raising taxes during a recession this year. Meanwhile the Governor obligingly plays his part by voicing annoyance at the Mayor's criticisms. Why should we believe either of them for one moment? Hickenlooper has been a tax-hiker and fee-booster himself during seven years in office. Ritter has already taken one for the team by declining a second term, and now takes another by feigning indignation over the jabs from Hick, while winking to signal that of course he understands a Dem candidate has to run to the center under present circumstances.

Hick used a business audience, the South Metro Chamber, as the setting for his phony embrace of free-market realities amid the economic doldrums. Let's not witness the nauseating spectacle of Colorado business again being fooled by a Democrat in 2010 as they were in 2006, when Ritter stole Bob Beauprez's clothes.

One of Denver's most seasoned and successful tycoons told me this week he will test Hickenlooper's bona fides with two simple questions, on both of which the Mayor is very unlikely to give a firm yes: (1) Will you roll back the Ritter executive order for unionization of state employees? (2) Will you resist pressure from the White House to stack the 2011 redistricting so Dems are guaranteed five or even six of the state's seven congressional seats for the next decade?

This downtown businessman is thinking more a lot clearly than suburban chamber director John Brackney, who gave a Hick a softball introduction before this week's snow job. When you cut through all the soothing talk and play-acting, the bottom line is that (a) our Mayor is not really at odds with our Governor and his job-killing statist agenda and (b) neither our Mayor nor our Governor is prepared to cross their President on any matter of importance.

That is to say, a vote for Hickenlooper this fall is a vote for Obama. Surely Colorado's business community won't be so gullible as to go down that road -- again.

Listen Tonight * Gov. Candidates 2010

Tune in tonight, Thursday, Dec. 17 at 7pm on 710 KNUS in Denver and streaming at, when Centennial Institute presents the Republican finalists for Governor of Colorado, Scott McInnis vs Dan Maes. Recorded at Centennial's candidate forum on Nov. 3 and edited to reflect Josh Penry's exit from the race. McInnis leads incumbent Bill Ritter by 48-40 in the latest poll. What does the potential next governor have to say for himself? What makes Maes, the dark horse, run?

See video highlights of both the Governor and Senator forums on the Centennial Institute blog at

McInnis's platform problem

(Denver Post, Dec. 6) All that is covered shall be revealed, promises the Good Book. It’s the perfect motto for America’s open society. Secrets are fools’ gold. Leaks will out. Thanks to a leaker at East Anglia University, we now know climate change isn’t cooking the planet after all. Climate alarmists are cooking the data. Meanwhile in Colorado, leakers are heating up the governor’s race. A week after the election, someone scooped Josh Penry’s plan to end his candidacy against Gov. Bill Ritter. A week later, someone else scooped Scott McInnis’s plan to unify Republicans around an issue contract. I’ve got this week’s leak. A confidential memo from inside the McInnis campaign showed up under my doormat. The authors call themselves the Skunk Works. The address line says, “Eyes Only: Mighty Mac,” and the subject reads: “The Carter Question and the Treaty of Fifth Avenue.” This is pure journalistic catnip, Pulitzer-quality stuff. Let me quote:

“Boss, to say you had a good November would be like saying Elway could pass a little. Last month was terrific. Overnight you’re the consensus nominee, endorsed by past and present GOP icons from Owens to Tancredo to Penry, and your Platform for Prosperity puts Republicans on offense with all three big issues – jobs, jobs, and jobs. Plus the platform’s tough stance on taxes, spending, illegal aliens, and crime erases your Washington taint as an ex-congressman.

“Ritter is now the one weighed down with Beltway baggage and on the defensive for his linkage to an Obama stimulus that didn’t stimulate. With total jobs in Colorado actually below 2006 levels, you can score big next fall with the old Jimmy Carter question on whether voters are better off than four years ago. Obviously not, so it’s time for Mac at quarterback.

“But since our job as Skunkers is to pipe in reality, not spin flattery, here’s the other side. With this new platform appearing to be written for you by powerful rivals, you’re in the awkward position of Nixon in 1960 when his issues were dictated by Rockefeller. Divisions over the so-called ‘Treaty of Fifth Avenue’ helped defeat the ticket. We need to change the 2010 story line, and fast.

“The potential winning message of the Platform for Prosperity is threatened by party grumbling and PR vulnerability. Pundits, both left and right, scoff that our agenda is too vague to attract swing voters. Many of the GOP faithful are saying we prefer insider manipulation instead of inclusiveness. Some worry that you won’t run hard on the platform, or fight for it if elected. What’s the McInnis response?

“To quiet the complaints on process, do three things. Hold grassroots platform hearings with Republicans across the state. Let assembly delegates choose your Lieutenant Governor, possibly Dan Maes. And gain endorsements from Bob Schaffer and Bob Beauprez at whatever cost, finally healing the breach from your ’06 and ’08 jabs at them.

“As for issues, Skunkers say go full throttle. Dramatize your platform with specifics. For job creation, pledge to zero out the corporate income tax. Colorado would boom! Roll out ballot issues to fortify TABOR and to let health insurers from any state write coverage here. Dare the legislature next spring to pass a top-10 list of prosperity bills. Call for voting down at least one member of our constitution-shredding Supreme Court, perhaps labor hack Michael Bender.

“Remember, Boss – McCain lost the presidency partly because millions of people feared his moderate mushiness would doom American conservatism if he won. If we don’t catch the wave of tea parties and townhalls, that could be your political obituary as well. But channel your inner Palin the next 300 days, and Ritter’s job is yours!”