How Colorado Republicans Can Save Themselves

News that Scott McInnis submitted partially plagiarized work to the Hasan Family Foundation for a $300,000 two-year paycheck threatens to severely undermine Republican aspirations in Colorado. McInnis was to lead the Republicans to victory this November as the candidate for governor.

I have collected many of the pertinent news links on my Twitter feed. For our purposes, a comment by Colorado Pols may be most relevant: “The Republican Governor’s Association, which has been raising a ton of coin, will now likely take Colorado off of its target list, which means millions of dollars will not be spent turning out Republican voters in the general election,” hurting all the down-ticket Republican candidates.

(July 15 Update: As Donald Johnson reports, the Association remains committed to “defeating John Hickenlooper.” However, the broader point remains that a weakened candidate would attract less funds across the board, both from in the state and from national groups. Funding aside, a weak, embarrassing candidate for such a high-profile race may discourage GOP voter turnout, which would hurt other Republican candidates.)

McInnis is a goner. Even if he survives the primaries, I see no way for him to beat Democrat John Hickenlooper. (I am registered unaffiliated, and I was leaning toward voting for Hickenlooper over McInnis even before the news about plagiarism broke.)

So what can Colorado Republicans do about this party-wide problem? Party Chair Dick Wadham’s response of shooting at one of the messengers (Terrance Carroll) will only further bury the party. Republicans need to get serious, for once.

What I think McInnis needs to do on a personal level is immediately promise to repay all the money to the Hasan Family Foundation. If he’s serious about wanting to take responsibility, that action would prove it.

Then McInnis should drop out of the race, save his party continued embarrassment, and resolve his personal problems.

I still think Dan Maes, the other Republican candidate, has practically no chance of beating Hickenlooper. However, Maes had the guts and the vision to stay in the race, and he has performed better than practically anybody predicted at the outset. However, after the primaries, if Maes is not beating Hickenlooper in reliable polls, Maes should do himself and his party a favor and drop out. As Don Johnson points out, that would give a vacancy committee a chance to select a serious candidate.

I think this approach would be far, far preferable to McInnis trying to beat Maes in the primaries and then dropping out (which I don’t think would work anyway).

No matter what Republicans do, they may not be able to win the governor’s race. I think voters might be so irritated that they’ll abandon even a strong replacement candidate. (Merely being the replacement would place a candidate at a disadvantage; this is an argument for Maes riding it through to the end.) But, if the Republicans cannot have a candidate for governor lifting up the ticket, perhaps they can at least find one who doesn’t drag it down.


More on Hickenlooper and McInnis
On Facebook, somebody asked me to “please explain why you are leaning toward voting for Hickenlooper.” I answered:

I wrote, “I was leaning toward voting for Hickenlooper over McInnis even before the news about plagiarism broke.” But I don’t think McInnis will be the the GOP nominee. The reasons for my position are three-fold. First, McInnis already had serious credibility issues; see the Post at Second, McInnis endorsed the obscene “personhood” measure: Third, Hickenlooper seems to be relatively sane for a Democrat, with his business background and sometimes-friendly (though admittedly contradictory) comments toward energy development.”