Maes rallies tea party

By Leslie Jorgensen

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes was the guest of honor Saturday at a “Tea Party” rally at the state Capitol that drew about 150 people to protest Republican Party tactics.

A little boy holds up a message to state GOP Chair Dick Wadhams.
Photo by Tatianna Gruen/The Colorado Statesman

Maes accused party leaders of brokering a deal to crown former 3rd District Congressman Scott McInnis as the party’s candidate for governor — and of ignoring the Evergreen businessman’s candidacy.

“It is time to vote for principles,” said Maes. “It is time to find a candidate who you believe in. It’s time for a candidate who shares your beliefs.

“It is time to unify behind a candidate that you believe in and you decide you believe in, not a bunch of guys in a closed room somewhere else.”

After state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, withdrew his bid for the Republican nomination last month, former 7th District Congressman Tom Tancredo toyed with the idea of jumping into the race. Instead, Tancredo joined Penry, former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and McInnis to develop the “Platform for Prosperity.”

That process opened the door for McInnis to be endorsed by Penry, Tancredo, Owens and key Republican legislators who earlier had backed the state Senate Minority leader. Maes was out in the cold — excluded from the platform powwow and completely ignored as a candidate.

Sheldon Bloedorn, chairman of the Southern Colorado Tea Party, based in Pueblo, agreed with Maes.

“We want the political process to work correctly — anointing candidates is not the process envisioned,” said Bloedorn.

Calling himself, “The People’s Candidate,” Maes touted his conservative social values and his business experience, which, he noted, includes building a business and selling it for more than a million dollars.

Maes implored the crowd to register to vote as Republicans so they would be able to vote in the primary election. Ryan Call, legal counsel to the state GOP and chairman of the Denver County party, worked the crowd, urging people to attend caucus training to learn the political process in Colorado.

Scotching rumors that he might run on another ticket, Maes said, “This is not the time for a third party.”

When Maes referenced religion, some Tea Partiers seemed to view it as a statement that the nation was founded on Christianity.

Denver County GOP chair and legal counsel to the state party, Ryan Call, left, and Cleve Tidwell, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Photo by Tatianna Gruen/The Colorado Statesman

“Am I allowed to say this here?” asked Maes, who stood on the Capitol’s West Steps and flashed a poster that said, “Say ‘Merry Christmas.’”

The only response came from a little girl who gleefully yelled, “Happy Hanukkah!”

“I’m not a lawyer. Is that okay? I’m not a lobbyist. Is that okay? I’m not a career politician. Is that okay?” asked Maes, and the crowd answered each question with whistles and applause.

Then Maes ironically introduced his most powerful supporter, Freda Poundstone, a legendary lobbyist under the gold dome.

Over the past decades, Poundstone’s endorsements have helped propel numerous conservative candidates into office. None was more conservative than former state Sen. Charlie Duke, R-Colorado Springs. Duke rose to national prominence as an anti-government leader in the so-called “Patriot Movement” in the 1990s.

“I don’t want a candidate who gives me BS!” declared Poundstone.

Without naming McInnis, Poundstone said, “I don’t want a candidate who has to sign an agreement to say he’ll be conservative.

“And then, if he gets elected — and I can tell you, and I told this to Tom Tancredo — he’ll give us the middle finger!” asserted Poundstone.

Tom Maes’ daughter Jordon, left, and former lobbyist Freda Poundstone, right, flank Maes as he addresses his concerns about GOP elitists.
Photo by Tatianna Gruen/The Colorado Statesman

Poundstone hailed Maes as a newcomer — not a “recycled politician.”

“I will be the next governor of Colorado!” declared Maes at the close of his speech.

He then opened up a burlap bag and solicited donations from $5 to $19.99. He explained he was taking a $20 bill and refunding a penny in order to bypass the bureaucratic hassle involved in reporting small campaign contributions.

Maes wasn’t the only candidate wooing the Tea Partiers. Courting support for their Republican U.S. Senate bids were Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, Steve Barton, of Penrose, and Denver businessman, Cleve Tidwell. Campaign volunteers represented the frontrunner in the race, former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. Former state Sen. Tom Wiens, who appears to be courting the activists’ support, missed the rally.

Maes and Tidwell said they’d both taken the I-Caucus candidates’ quiz, which measures conservative views and can lead to endorsements and campaign donations.

“It’s an 80-question test,” said Tidwell. “I scored 98.5!”

“You know how conservative Tidwell is,” laughed Maes, who scored in the low 80s.

Maes left the crowd with a prediction that he’ll win the GOP nomination if McInnis “doesn’t stop shooting himself in the foot.”

It was clearly a reference to McInnis’ recent interview on Fox TV, during which McInnis was referred to as Colorado’s Tea Party candidate.