In 2010, is a candidate’s ability to boast little to no political expertise seen as some sort of a bragging right? That certainly does seem to be the case. And contrary to most any other profession where familiarity with the industry is viewed as an advantage, many Americans are finding the new faces of politics refreshing, promising and free of the old disingenuous rhetoric. On Saturday, February 13th, The American Cincinnatus Project welcomed one of Colorado’s lesser known gubernatorial candidates. Dan Maes, certainly befitting of the description “fresh faced” has seen a steady rise in popularity over the course of the past several months. And this past week, A.C.P. welcomed him to Golden’s own Golden Grounds Coffee for some open dialogue with the voters.
Given the nation’s heightened awareness of rising unemployment numbers and an ever increasing national and state deficit, it was no surprise the number of questions attendees raised regarding Maes’ solution to the state’s fiscal situation. “Honest to a fault,” was how Maes described himself before addressing deficit specifics. If elected as Colorado’s Chief Executive, Maes declared he would be bound to cut some 4,000 state jobs, a number commensurate to that added by current Colorado Governor Bill Ritter just last year. According to Maes the cut would salvage more than half a million dollars in revenue. But his answers were not just in the form of job cuts. “We’ve lost tens of thousands of energy jobs.” Reminding guests that Grand Junction had recently earned the deplorable title of location with the greatest increase in unemployment, Maes directly linked the employment deficit to the sitting governor. “Shame on Bill Ritter.” Maes later noted, “The current Governor is a fine man, but he is not an executive.”
For all of the political fluency Scott McInnis may boast, he certainly cannot compete with Maes’ wealth of executive experience. Indeed, Maes has substantially more executive knowledge under his belt. His past is replete with examples of revitalized small businesses. Among other names, Maes noted his experience in dealing with organizations such as Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. “If you can work with these three folks, you can work with anyone.” Whether executive experience or political experience is more important will be a question only voters can answer. And odds are Colorado’s small business sector will be on their minds when they do.
“The small business personal property tax has gotta go.” Maes also noted his support for business tax incentives for any hires off of the unemployment role, a methodology riddled with varying opinions. Maes further encouraged voters to pose such questions to his opponent, McInnis, whom he assured them would not directly offer any answers. “As you explore candidates, you need to know where they stand on (these issues.)”
Audience questions regarding K-12 budget shortfalls received equally candid responses from the candidate. “Cut the fat out of the management and executive end.” Ever the politically charged subject Maes pointed to the current recession. Every government and private sector entity, indeed every household, has had to adjust to the budget crisis. Like it or not, Maes articulated, K-12 could be treated no differently. The discussion led to the subject of taxation to which Maes argued, “We as the people fell asleep.” Maes pointed to the Constitutions enumeration of federal legislative powers in Article 1, section 8, reminding voters that it was we who allowed for the confiscation of all variety of state authorities. “There’s a new sheriff in town…You can pry TABOR out of my cold, dead hands.”
But much still remains to be seen. Maes has a lot of ground to make up in the way of financial backing. An internet surge was expected to hit on Valentine’s Day but the results are not yet known. 2010 poses some interesting opportunities for candidates like Maes. If the political climate is as he predicts it to be, his new face will provide the capitol necessary to waylay normal contribution expectations a bit longer. Indeed, Scott Brown received the majority of his funding just prior to victory. Then again, the American electorate is slow to change and big spending has been a staple of successful campaigning for decades upon decades.
For now, we can at least say of Dan Maes that he makes a concerted effort to get to know his fellow Coloradans, a gesture which has paid off. McInnis seems to only recently have made any such efforts and his numerable and conspicuous absences have not gone unnoticed. Without a firm grasp on the true thrust of his support, Dan Maes is as eager for the March Caucus as anyone else. And only then will we have a better feel for what Colorado’s Conservative community is truly looking for.