The Long Knives Unsheathed in Colorado

Dan Maes (R) came out of the blue this past May to win the Colorado Republican Party’s backing for governor at its convention.

Dan Maes (R) came out of the blue this past May to win the Colorado Republican Party’s backing for governor at its convention. The state has been rocked by scandal ever since.

At the convention, Maes sprinted ahead of frontrunner and former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis (R), a long-time favorite to win the nomination. Maes' victory puts McInnis in a difficult position to win the primary. Maes lacks a serious policy platform, but he can prove private sector managerial experience; an appealing quality in an anti-establishment year.

Compounding McInnis’ Maes problem are the recent allegations that McInnis has engaged in two instances of plagiarism. The first case is over part of a 1994 editorial that he published on the first Korean nuclear crisis and an eerily similar editorial that appeared in the Washington Post just over a month before. McInnis has not denied that there are similarities between the two columns and blamed it on his staffer Rolly Fischer, who has taken full responsibility for the misconduct. 

The second example of plagiarism comes from McInnis’ history of Colorado water rights called “Musings on Water.” The Denver Post reports that at least four full paragraphs were lifted from an essay on the same topic by now-State Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs. McInnis has apologized and called both instances of plagiarism “unintentional.”

The Denver Post, which broke both stories this week, has called on McInnis to quit the governor’s race. 

Maes has a controversy of his own brewing this week. In May he was charged with the misuse of campaign funds, having reimbursed himself for mileage accrued during the campaign that he had not proved. While he earlier denied the charges, he resolved the issue today with the payment of a fine, negotiated down to $17,500 from $25,000, for misrepresenting millage reimbursements.

Meanwhile, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D), who is running unopposed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, delivered a state of the city address that reflects the anti-big government mood of the country. “Good government doesn’t have to mean big government,” is a sentiment shared by few in today’s Washington establishment and does not auger well for liberal hopes that the West had swung definitively toward the Left in 2008.

“There are clearly many ways that Denver is growing – transportation, education, job creation – but there is one way that Denver is shrinking. City government is actually smaller today than it was eight years ago” – Hickenlooper appears to know which way the wind is blowing. He is currently running behind both Maes and McInnis; a move to the center appears to be his strategy to close the gap. He benefits from the lack of a primary challenger that would stymie this tactic’s effectiveness.

Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at

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