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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Implosion in Colorado

There’s been a saga unfolding this week in Colorado which illustrates the fundamental fact that polls, political trends, money, and all the advantages in the world can’t guarantee an electoral victory for any given candidate, if he or she has a skeleton in the old closet that suddenly emerges and starts clanking in front of the cameras.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, considered an even bet to defeat Denver mayor John Hickenlooper in November, has suffered this fate, leaving the Colorado GOP in a heap of trouble.
Long story short, the Denver papers seem to have done some rudimentary checking into McGinnis’ finances, and discovered that just after his retirement from Congress in 2005, he got paid a cool $300,000 for a two-year stint with a foundation in which his only visible work was a 150-page paper with the gripping title of “Musings on Water.” Somehow or other, suspicions were raised that this might not be the former congressman’s original work, and an out-of-state expert figured out that whole pages were lifted from a twenty-year-old paper written by somebody else. Mcinnis then sought to dime out his “researcher” on the project, confirming, of course, that he didn’t exactly sit down at the computer and pound out the pricey paper himself. Said researcher, an 82-year-old engineer, allowed as how he thought he was doing campaign research for McInnis, and expressed considerable unhappiness that he was only paid a few hundred bucks while the putative gubernatorial candidate was pulling down 300 large.
McInnis should be nicknamed “Digger,” since everything he’s done to “explain” his problem has just widened and deepened the crevice into which his candidacy has now descended.
The problem is, the state party convention has passed, and now McInnis is on the primary ballot with a tea party activist, Dan Maes, who just received a major fine for campaign finance violations (ironic, since the guy can’t seem to raise much money). State party poohbahs would like to find a replacement for McInnis, but can’t do that until the primary, which could well be won by Maes, who ain’t going anywhere. Meanwhile, McInnis is refusing to do anything other than soldier on with his campaign. At this point, with primary ballots already printed and in the mail, Colorado Republicans seem to be hoping that McInnis will beat Maes and then decide to withdraw his nomination, allowing party leaders to find a toothsome replacement (perhaps the loser of the Norton-Buck Senate battle).
Quite a mess, eh? And totally unforeseen so far as we can tell.
The moral of the story is that any candidate for major office should hire a good, vicious oppo research consultant to review his or her own record and show exactly what could be made of this or that “insignificant” fact. Some candidates actually do that. Looks like Scott McInnis didn’t, and in a difficult year, Democrats should have at least one bright spot in Colorado.

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