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Hey, GOP, start over 

Between the Lines

This note goes out to the Colorado Republican Party, starting with state chairman Dick Wadhams:

Perhaps the time has come, in all seriousness, to start over with the GOP's 2010 race for governor. That's right, start over.

Your candidates, Scott McInnis and Dan Maes, have proven themselves unworthy of running the state government. They have violated basic standards of campaign law and professional ethics. They have given arrogant responses when confronted. They no longer should be considered assets to the party.

So why not have a few meetings, persuade both to step aside, and offer a new candidate? There are several available, one in particular, as you surely know.

Your other option is to continue down this path of revelations and embarrassments, paving the way for the Democrat you detest so much, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, to become Colorado's next governor.

Think about it... but the clock is ticking, and time is not on your side.

— Ralph in Colorado Springs

All along, Republicans have had a problem uniting behind a candidate for governor in 2010. They were so confident of unseating Gov. Bill Ritter that they didn't bother making sure to have the strongest person in the race. Then Ritter decided in January not to run again, and Hickenlooper emerged.

No big deal, GOP insiders reassured everyone. Hickenlooper's a flaming liberal. We'll hammer him in November.

Just one problem: McInnis and Maes have been exposed on various fronts. And these haven't been small mistakes and missteps. They've been killers.

Maes battled legitimacy and credibility from the start. He had no money, couldn't find his campaign treasurer at one point (conveniently, his wife is now treasurer) and seemed to connect only with the Tea Party. He did edge McInnis at the GOP state assembly, a clear signal of unrest, but arguably a stronger wakeup call to McInnis.

Now, Maes has incurred more damage by admitting to major campaign finance violations — most notably paying himself more than $40,000 in mileage — then paying what is now $17,500 in fines without contesting the charges. After all that, amid rising questions of using his limited campaign money for personal purposes, he told the Denver Post that he compared the violations to a "very large stack" of parking tickets.

Even if he's not corrupt, Maes would have to be labeled as grossly incompetent and overmatched.

That leaves McInnis, who hasn't been able to escape his past. He insisted he was generous to charities — then said he actually gave to the Republican National Committee (not your basic local nonprofit), which turned out to be untrue. Then he said he gave to his church, before admitting he couldn't verify that; then he said he gave some meat from an elk he had killed to a needy family.

Next, he claimed he couldn't remember ever having been involved with Colorado Republicans for Choice, an organization promoting pregnant women's right to choose. Yet his name was on the organization's letterhead in the late 1990s, and he was listed on its advisory board.

All he had to do was say he'd had a change of heart over the years, and he would've been fine. Instead, he acted as if he was never involved.

Now the Post has uncovered blatant, undeniable plagiarism by McInnis in a series of articles he "wrote" on water issues as part of a highly paid ($300,000) two-year fellowship after leaving Congress in 2005. The Post found a memo from McInnis to the foundation that funded the fellowship, saying, "All the articles are original and not reprinted from any other source."

Now the foundation is talking about demanding much or all of its money back. And it wasn't like the articles plagiarized somebody's research paper. They were copied from 1984 essays by Gregory Hobbs, today a Colorado Supreme Court justice. Hobbs isn't happy, to say the least.

McInnis is blaming a staff researcher, but that clearly implies he was allowing the researcher to write the articles, with McInnis taking the credit and money. All this happened just a few years ago. Now he wants to be governor.

What should the Republicans do next? Simple. After deposing McInnis and Maes, they could resurrect ex-Gov. Bill Owens, which is allowable since he's been gone four years.

Hmmm, Owens vs. Hickenlooper. That would be a choice for November. So, if Republicans really want to win, why not?

routon@csindy.com

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