Maes says Colo. tea party timing was right |

Maes says Colo. tea party timing was right

Associated Press Writer
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER – Call Dan Maes a beneficiary of Colorado’s tea party movement. Just don’t call him a tea party candidate.

Maes, who has top billing in the August GOP primary ballot for governor, says he was a supporter of tea party goals before people even knew there was a tea party.

“I went to my first breakfast meeting after becoming a candidate and there was this guy talking about a tea party. No one knew what he was talking about,” Maes said in an interview.

“What I represented and what they wanted were the same thing. I was a candidate with a message and no base. They were a base with no candidate, and we met in the middle.”

He’s got a base now. A former businessman from Evergreen who never ran for office before, Maes worked tea party and conservative groups hard for months. His effort bore fruit when he edged a six-term congressman, former Rep. Scott McInnis, in the state Republican assembly.

Hundreds of party activists wearing red “Maes” T-shirts cheered: Maes had earned bragging rights as the party nominee, if only by a percentage point. He or McInnis will face Democrat John Hickenlooper in November.

Maes says he won’t make the same mistake as his better-funded opponent, who got a drubbing when a national TV talk show host said McInnis had the backing of tea party supporters. McInnis didn’t set the record straight, angering tea party activists who don’t believe he represents their values.

And what are those values?

“Limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise, religious freedom, the value of life, family values and freedom of education. That’s our charter,” said Sheldon Bloedorn, chairman of the Southern Colorado Tea Party in Pueblo, which endorsed Maes. Their motto: “Taxed Enough Already.”

Bloedorn says he invited McInnis to a tax day rally in April and was disappointed.

“He chose not to spend any appreciable amount of time at the tea party listening to us. Instead he came and went as if his being there was a favor to us the voters. Some people just aren’t listening,” Bloedorn said.

Maes believes McInnis crossed present-day tea party core values a decade ago as a congressman by failing to help rein in the national debt and supporting an abortion rights group. Maes cited a 1998 letterhead from Republicans for Choice that included McInnis’ name on the advisory board.

McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy says McInnis was pro-choice when he went to Congress in 1993 but later changed his views. He insisted McInnis pushed for budget frugality.

Duffy added McInnis supports every value in the tea party charter and is supported by many groups among the 40 or so tea party affiliates in Colorado.

Maes said he would roll back Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter’s mill levy freeze to raise money for schools, a surcharge on vehicle registrations, and Ritter’s efforts to promote alternative energy, which Maes says cost jobs in the oil and gas industry.

Maes said McInnis got into the race because he thought he’d be running against Ritter, who was down in the polls and was vulnerable for increasing oil and gas industry regulation and raising fees, including the mill levy. That all changed when Ritter pulled out of the race in January.

Maes insisted it’s all about timing. For Republicans, it’s the right timing because voters are angry. For Maes, it’s the right time because of the tea party movement.

“Timing is everything. There is good timing and bad timing,” he said.



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