“Money Bomb.” Those are the words gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes used in our Tuesday interview to describe an impending fundraising announcement this Sunday, February 14th. And with the March caucuses fast approaching, an announcement of this variety is precisely the anecdote the Maes Campaign is going to need if it expects to continue competing with the big boys. That is not to say that Maes has not already impressed many within the Republican Community. Dan Maes has proved one of the more accessible, hard-working and plainly spoken of the candidates. But the numbers must soon begin to show signs of the same vigor if Maes has any hopes of being taken seriously in the long term.
So who is Dan Maes? Raised in Wisconsin, Maes moved to Colorado in 1985 shortly thereafter launching his career as a business developer. A father of three and husband to wife, Karen, Dan Maes currently resides in Evergreen, Colorado. New to the political scene, what Maes lacks in political experience he makes up for in business acumen. His record of success in business rehabilitation, development and resale has attracted the attention of many in the political community. As our nation sinks into deeper debt a business expert in the governor’s seat is sorely needed. But there are hurdles Maes must overcome before voters can begin to seriously consider his candidacy for the state’s highest office.
Scott McInnis, the candidate who has exceeded Maes’ fundraising efforts by leaps and bounds has also already been unofficially crowned the party choice by key players within the Colorado GOP. McInnis has been active in the state’s political community for some time, possessing the inestimable name-recognition every candidate strives for. Dan Maes is a virtual newcomer. Many voters are still lacking in familiarity with Maes, something the candidate is well aware of.
So when I interviewed Candidate Maes on Tuesday, I queried him about the future of his campaign from a business man’s perspective. Maes was swift to allude to his Valentine’s Day announcement. Expecting a large fundraising surge from pocket-sized individual donations over the internet, Maes seemed confident he would have something of significance to report inside the week. He also expanded upon the nature of politics, more specifically 2010 Tea Party Politics. Tuned into the mood of the electorate, as he put it, Maes seemed confident his authenticity would steadily augment his following and eventually his donations. And if the candidate’s primary goal is to expand upon his following he is doing an excellent job.
Maes has been willing to answer tough questions, agree to debate and attend most any event which might afford him the opportunity to shake the hands of his fellow Coloradans. Maes has impressed many grassroots activists as well. The Independence Caucus noted his willingness to answer direct and often tough questions his Republican counterpart, McInnis, opted to avoid. The group delivered a questionnaire to each of the candidates requesting they answer key questions pertaining to their stance on matters of significance to the conservative community. The Caucus was impressed with Maes for his willingness to answer the questions and sign his name to the dotted line, even in instances where he knew the group would not necessarily agree with his answers. “The people are ready for a hard worker,” Maes explained, “someone whose actions match his words. If you can’t show up during a campaign, then how are you going to show up when it really matters?”
If Maes does surprise opponents with big numbers during his Sunday announcement he will have one final and very considerable hurdle to overcome. Many Colorado Republicans vividly recall the division of the 2006 Gubernatorial Primary where the sitting Congressman, Bob Beauprez was forced to battle against GOP and Colorado newcomer Marc Holtzman. Though some may disagree, many felt the internal strife played a hefty role in the party’s ultimate November defeat against Bill Ritter. Maes, right or wrong, has been viewed by some as the “Holtzman” of 2010, most especially since Josh Penry bowed out of the race in a gesture of solidarity behind a McInnis ticket. But Maes was swift to make the distinction. “What’s important for the party loyalists to remember is that I stepped into this race first. I set the tone. I started talking about our economy. I started talking about energy. I jumped in as a leader. If anyone is going to create dissension it is not going to be me.” No one can know what November is going to bring, or for that matter August. It is anybody’s guess. But one thing is for sure, if ever there was an electoral mood ripe for a candidate like Dan Maes, 2010 would be that year.