Dan Maes can't win if Tom Tancredo stays in the race, says CO Republican boss Dick Wadhams

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Dan Maes.
On Monday, Scott McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy insisted his guy wasn't a dead fish. But at this writing, he's flopping on the dock, refusing to admit that he doesn't have lungs -- or that he lost last night's primary to Dan Maes. But while Colorado Republican Party boss Dick Wadhams has kind words for Maes, he sticks to his previous position -- that Maes has no chance to winning the governor's race if Tom Tancredo stays a candidate.

When given an open-ended invitation to weigh in on the events of primary night, Wadhams chooses to talk about a Democrat -- Michael Bennet, who defeated Andrew Romanoff -- rather than one of his ideological brethren.

According to Wadhams, "it's clear that Michael Bennet would have been defeated by Andrew Romanoff had he not been dragged across the line by Barack Obama," who participated in a conference call with Bennet last week. "But his problem now is, he's tied so heavily to a Democratic president who in a recent poll had only 38 percent approval in Colorado, and disapproval in the mid-50s. Barack Obama is a yoke around his neck.

"The result of the primary is that Bennet had to move so far to the left in order to win the primary -- that's where Romanoff pushed him, and Bennet willingly went there. Plus, he voted for a failed stimulus bill that clearly a majority of Colorado voters opposed. And a clear majority of Colorado voters opposed the health-care monstrosity, they opposed cap and trade, they opposed card check. All the issues where Michael Bennet finally took a position in the primary, he's on the wrong side of Colorado voters."

What about Ken Buck? The Republican senatorial primary winner defeated Jane Norton, seen by one and all as the preferred choice of the GOP establishment. Will the latter unite behind Buck?

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Dick Wadhams.
"I don't think there's any doubt," Wadhams says. "The stakes are too high in this election, and what Colorado Republicans are most committed to is reversing this very dangerous path that Barack Obama and Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper are taking us down. So I don't think it'll take a lot to unite the party behind Ken Buck. Ken proved himself in this campaign. This is a guy who was counted out last fall, when Jane got in. Jane took a pretty big fall, but she fought back and made it a competitive race. But Ken held on in the end, and I think he's proven how tough he is. And I think he's proven he's an articulate candidate who can draw the contrasts between him and Michael Bennet."

Did the widely held belief that Norton was handpicked for victory by the party elite eventually doom her candidacy?

"It's hard to define what being 'the party choice' means," Wadhams maintains. "But I do think one of the things that happened to Jane is, there was a perception that she was talked into running by people in Washington in positions of power. I think that was an unfair characterization. I think Jane made her own decision to run for the Senate. And she's never lived in Washington. She's lived her life in Colorado. But I do think that perception existed, and that's what started her decline, after starting out as the presumptive nominee.

"Even though there were some early missteps in her campaign, Jane was a great candidate," he continues. "I saw her on the trail -- I saw her in every corner of the state -- and Jane the candidate was outstanding."

Wadhams also throws bouquets to Josh Penry, a gubernatorial candidate before dropping out in favor of McInnis; Penry subsequently became Norton's campaign manager. Indeed, his comments seem to be laying the groundwork for a Penry candidacy in 2014 should John Hickenlooper become governor.

"Josh made the race competitive," Wadhams notes. "He did a great job of bringing the campaign back. You've really got to complement him. But whatever the perception was about Jane did impact her campaign, especially in the 2010 environment, where Washington is a four-letter word."

Given that, did Norton make a mistake by spending the last weekend before the primary standing beside Arizona Senator John McCain, who's widely disliked by so-called Liberty Movement groups?

"That's a very good question," Wadhams says. "But I won't second-guess their decision on that. I know Josh well enough to know they thought through that very carefully. I wasn't privy to the discussions, but I know it wasn't made without a great deal of thought."

And with that, Wadhams finally gets around to talking about Maes. But his back-pats lack much enthusiasm.

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