In Colorado, Conservatives Rethink Their Candidate

 
This has been, in many places, the year of the political newcomer, the year that voters, aglow with Tea Party fervor, have cast out incumbents and elected a new crop of candidates who could boast of their inexperience.

But there are limits.

Dan Maes, a businessman with no political background, swept up the GOP nomination for governor of Colorado after beating former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis in an August primary thanks to Tea Party support. He earned the right to challenge Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, in November.

But a string of missteps and sagging poll numbers have led former supporters to call on him to drop out of the race. The Denver Post has identified several high-profile Republicans and grassroots leaders who have withdrawn their endorsements. Maes has vowed to press on. The conflict is one of the more visible signs of tension between establishment Republicans and the upstart Tea Party groups that have emerged over the past year.

Maes' campaign has been dogged by embarrassing incidents. He has been criticized for saying a Denver bike-sharing program would bring a "United Nations agenda" to American cities. He has also had to pay a record $17,500 in fines for campaign finance violations. The most recent setback came last week when it emerged that he had embellished his former career as a Kansas police officer on his resume. It turned out that Maes was not an undercover officer, as he had claimed.

"We've spent a lot of time turning attention to statehouse candidates, but this whole mess has just sucked all of the attention and energy away from the great candidates," Nikki Matta, a conservative activist, told the Denver Post .

Maes is not buying it. "This is a culture war, a war between the people and the machine, and we're going to find out who controls things," he said. 

 
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