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I confess, I didn’t see it coming. Nobody did.
Three months ago, I wasn’t running for governor. I just wanted the Republican Party to offer a credible conservative candidate. Little did I know that four separate groups were secretly conspiring to push me into the race and get me elected.
These four groups had never worked together in the past. What is even more bizarre is that some of them don’t even like me. But here we are, seven weeks from Election Day, and the plot is unfolding right before our eyes. Remarkably, against all odds, victory is in sight.
How did this happen? The first set of actors to put the complex plot in motion was a small group of self-appointed Republican kingmakers. They wanted a candidate who could be elected governor without an expensive or nasty primary battle like Colorado experienced in 2006. But being drunk on their own self-importance, these heavy hitters went too far. Instead of scheming to avoid a bloody primary, they decided the better plan was to have no primary at all.
This group of Republicans put their dollars and their considerable influence behind a former congressman, Scott McInnis. Disregarding the fact that their candidate had visible political baggage, they began to “clear the field” of potential challengers. They succeeded marvelously, and by November 2009, they had eliminated the last viable McInnis opponent, a popular state senator.
Meanwhile, a second group of conspirators, the Democrats insiders, were hatching their plans. They had to solve the problem of an unpopular incumbent governor, Bill Ritter. They looked at Ritter’s unpopularity and the gathering Republican storm and decided to push him out. In December, Ritter accommodated the party’s elite and announced he would not seek a second term.
Here enters the third group of conspirators, the editors of the Denver Post acting in consort with a handful of Denver businessmen. They decided the next governor should be the mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper, who is known as the “Teflon Mayor” because nothing sticks to him. Surprise! It turns out that Hickenlooper’s Teflon is largely mythical and has never been tested in battle.
That leads to the fourth unlikely group of conspirators, a band of assorted grassroots leaders who understandably wanted an alternative to the establishment’s weak candidate, McInnis. By the date of the Republican state assembly in May, businessman Dan Maes was the only remaining alternative, so they rallied behind him.
There was one small problem: Maes has ethical lapses that would embarrass a used car salesman. As for his political principles, he has no track record on any political issue of concern to conservatives.
Maes’ campaign encountered severe turbulence as soon as the public spotlight landed on him. He changed his position on key issues like amnesty for illegal aliens. He refused to publicly release his income tax records, incurred the highest fines for campaign finance violations in Colorado history and paid himself and his wife generous amounts from his campaign funds. He lied about important items on his resume, and it soon became clear he has grossly exaggerated his claim to be a “successful business executive.”
Yet, using the classic demagogic theme of the “little man versus the machine,” Maes became the “none of the above” alternative to McInnis. After the revelations of McInnis’ plagiarism-for-profit in June, Maes beat McInnis in the Aug. 10 primary and became the Republican nominee for governor of Colorado.
At the end of July, looking at the two choices available to conservatives, McInnis and Maes, I entered the race for governor as the nominee of the American Constitution Party. I did so only after Maes refused to promise to withdraw and allow the Republican Party’s vacancy committee to select a new, stronger candidate.
Here we are, at a crossroads in Colorado politics that no one could have imagined three short months ago. In the latest (Sept. 13) Rasmussen poll, I have pulled ahead of the Republican charlatan while Hickenlooper’s numbers are falling.
In the year of the biggest conservative uprising since 1994, Republican and independent voters now see Tom Tancredo as the only viable alternative to the liberal Democrat mayor of a sanctuary city. Hickenlooper has a record of perennial tax increases, has tried to hide personal charitable donations to many left-wing causes and profited from a sweetheart tax-avoidance deal that prompted IRS penalties.
As I said, I did not see this coming. I can win a three-way race where the two opponents are a left-liberal mayor who hosted Obama’s coronation as the face of the Democrat Party and a man who can’t tell the truth about his income, his taxes, his politics or his resume. How did I get so lucky?