AVON, Colorado - Dan Maes may have summed up much of America's attitude toward the federal government in two words: "Screw them!"
Maes is the Republican candidate for governor and stopped in Avon, Colo., on Sunday for a quick chat with some locals in Bob's Place.
He's running against Democrat John Hickenlooper and third-party political gadfly Tom Tancredo. He's not shy about pointing out the differences between them and himself.
"John Hickenlooper is four more years of Bill Ritter, and God forbid, he's four more years of Barack Obama. That's who called him and asked him to run," Maes said.
Maes said Tancredo has said publically the only reason he's running as a third-party candidate is to keep Maes from getting elected.
"Tom Tancredo is not good at running anything. The only thing he's good at running is his mouth," Maes said. "I've built businesses and signed both sides of a paycheck."
Maes was preaching to the choir as he talked about enforcing current immigration laws and reducing government.
Maes' plan for immigration:
•Implement E-Verify, a system that claims to determine almost immediately if someone's documentation is real or forged.
•Enforce two state laws that ban people from receiving public assistance if they're illegal and don't have proper identification.
"We just need a leader with the courage to do that," Maes said. "I don't care what the federal government thinks about it. Screw them. We're going to do what's best for the people of Colorado."
Maes' plan for cutting state government:
•Do not fill open positions and do not replace retirees.
•Do not continue to fund failing
•Government workers are paid about 6 percent more than counterparts in the private sector, plus they get a generous retirement package. That retirement package should not be funded at any higher rate than it is now.
"To increase revenue, drive the energy industry as hard and as fast as we can," Maes said. "Western Colorado is dying on the vine because of Bill Ritter's policies."
•Cut taxes. "Remember when you sent Republicans into government and they did what they were supposed to do?" Maes said. "They're supposed to cut taxes. Government doesn't create jobs, the private sector creates jobs. Business people don't have the courage to hire people because Bill Ritter has failed you."
Maes said he's not universally loved in Republican circles.
"I've been pulled into meetings with the understanding that they'd be fundraisers, only to be told that I need to leave this race," Maes said. "In the last two weeks, I've stood up to six- and seven-term congressmen and millionaire senators. If someone wants to come after me, they can bring it on."
But candidate vetting was over primary day when he topped Scott McInnis in the state Republican primary.
"I am the Republican candidate for governor and we're looking at another 1994," Maes said. "I think we can expect big movement, and this November's election is the first step in the takeover process.
Maes has been accused of stretching a story about working undercover for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and exaggerating his business success.
He told Sunday's crowd his side of those stories.
Maes said The Denver Post called him while he was attending a livestock auction at the Colorado state fair, and that it was hard for him to clearly hear the Post reporter.
"I told him he must have misspoken about my experience in the Liberal, Kan., Police Department," Maes said. "I was a 22-year old kid and hadn't been on the force six months. I went over to a girl's house for Easter dinner and noticed in a corner tables with phones with calls coming in and ledger books. I was 22, and I didn't know what a bookmaking operation looked like. I told my sergeant and captain about it, and they told me we have more important things to do than worry about gambling on football games."
Months later, Maes said he was called into a meeting with his captain and sergeant, who told him to go to a hotel room. He said he told them he was not going without backup, but he eventually did.
He knocked on the hotel room door and it was opened by an agent from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Maes said he told the agent the story about the gambling operation, and the agent asked Maes to send along any information to the KBI.
Maes agreed. He said he used the word "undercover" when describing it.
A few months later, his captain and his sergeant called him in and fired him.
"They said I was being dismissed for associating with people of bad character who reflected poorly on the Liberal Police Department," Maes said. "To be dismissed and not know why, it was the first time I cried as an adult."
That was 1985, and he left Kansas days later, moving to Colorado.
"I did what I thought was right at the time, and I stand by it."
There are also charges that Maes has embellished his business success.
In 1990, he got into the telecommunications business and helped grow his company into to one of the country's largest. He asked for an equity stake, didn't get it, and moved his family to western New York for another company that would give him a piece of the action. He later landed back in Colorado and hasn't left, he said.
"My resume is on my website for all the world to see," Maes said. "Neither of my opponents have done that."
"If someone says something about me, you tell them 'prove it,'" Maes said. "And if The Denver Post calls, don't answer."