Colo. GOP promises to back tea party candidate |

Colo. GOP promises to back tea party candidate

STEVEN K. PAULSONAssociated Press Writer
Dan Maes, Republican primary candidate for governor, is greeted by supporter Nancy Rumfelt at Lodos Bar and Grill in downtown Denver. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post

DENVER (AP) – After months of ignoring withering criticism from dozens of state tea party organizations, Colorado’s Republican Party on Wednesday swallowed its pride and threw its support behind Dan Maes, the political newcomer in an intriguing gubernatorial contest with Democrat John Hickenlooper and independent Tom Tancredo.It was no secret state party leaders favored two losers in Tuesday’s primaries, former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis in the gubernatorial primary and Jane Norton in the Senate race, who lost to prosecutor Ken Buck. On Wednesday, the party tried to reassure the winners they have its support.”Of course we’re going to back them. They don’t all love me, I know that,” said state Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams.Mark Hillman, who represents the state party on the Republican National Committee, said he expects national support for both candidates, though it might be limited for Maes.Republicans want to grab Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat to help erase their 15-seat deficit in the chamber. Hillman said the national party has limited resources and has to spend it where it will do the most good.He said he sees no problem giving money and support to tea party groups still bent on attacking the Republican Party.”I think tea party criticisms that the Republican Party hasn’t done a good job supporting the principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism are valid,” Hillman said.Lu Busse, chair of the patriot group 9-12 Project Colorado Coalition, said support from the state and national GOP would “be the right thing to do” but that the groups aren’t counting on it.”We do need to find ways to work together, but we are not going to wait for them to approve how we do things,” she said.It will take time for mutual distrust to fade. Ranking members of the Colorado Republican Party reportedly tried to recruit other candidates to replace Maes after McInnis became mired in a plagiarism scandal, including Dave Liniger, a real estate executive, and former gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman. Party leaders deny it.The Colorado primary was one of more than a dozen primaries this year – among them Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington state and Florida – where tea party candidates are determined to capture GOP nominations.Three-term Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah was ousted by tea partiers at the state GOP convention in May. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sharron Angle of Nevada pulled off surprise victories over party favorites. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was forced out of the GOP by tea party-backed Marco Rubio.Tancredo, the former congressman who left the GOP to run for the American Constitution Party, said state Republicans are only “paying lip service” to tea party groups. He said he believes mainstream donors who do not support the patriot tea party movement will stop giving, limiting the amount of help the party can provide Maes.”They’re in a real bind,” Tancredo said.

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