In case you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t a normal election year. If it weren’t 2010, a political outsider like Dan Maes arrayed against the political establishment, tons of money and a campaign organization would be little more than a nice guy also-ran, and yesterday’s Denver Post piece would be pure fantasy:
Although Maes had no previous political experience, a cultural movement was forming across the country with a focus on pressuring the Republican Party to return to its core conservative values and principles. That movement played a substantial role in elevating Maes’ campaign from a “no chance” to a “what if.”
“My base emerged while I was looking for a base,” Maes said. “I had a message and they had a message, and it was the same.”
But 2010 is different. Why? Because we can talk reasonably about Dan Maes as a serious “what if” candidate, and it’s not just a matter of good timing. Left out of the article is the amount of shoe leather and elbow grease Maes has applied in his many months on the campaign trail, and the effective political skills he has developed while remaining true to himself and his principles.
The first of the Post article’s closing three questions points out the sticking point for the upstart Colorado Republican’s gubernatorial campaign (the other two questions are loaded and vaguely open-ended, respectively):
Will Maes be able to secure enough financial backing to take his campaign beyond the grassroots?
That depends on how much the “grassroots” — the Tea Party types and their kindred who specifically get involved at the precinct caucus and assembly level — believes the campaign funds will follow their support. If Dan Maes earns top line at the state assembly in May (by winning more than 50 percent of the votes from delegates), then watch out.
Hardly a Maes cheerleader, fellow RMA blogger Don Johnson sees that presumed GOP frontrunner Scott McInnis is in trouble. The wider the perception of McInnis’ vulnerability against new Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper grows, you can expect the steam behind the insurgent Maes campaign to pick up.
Then what happens? One way or another, Colorado conservatives need to focus on regaining majorities and increasing strength in the state legislature. Because whoever occupies the state’s highest office, we need representatives and senators who will move a fiscally responsible limited government agenda.
The Post piece on Maes closes with an implied question:
His main challenge will not just be convincing voters he is the only real conservative in the contest. He also must explain why that distinct notion makes him qualified to be Colorado’s next governor.
But if you have followed the campaign in the slightest, you will have heard Dan Maes make the case for his candidacy not simply on his ideological bona fides but on his track record and executive experience in private business.
Is it enough? To say Dan Maes’ chances are improbable may be generous. But the fact we’re even having the conversation at this point says a lot not only about the man’s character and confidence but also about a remarkable year. For the sake of our state’s future, it kind of makes you want to pay attention to campaign 2010, n’est-ce pas?