In yesterday's blog note, I suggested that Dan Maes is trying to shore up his own weaknesses with his choice of an experienced running mate. I had never heard of his choice, Tambor Williams, before a few days ago (since almost all of her time in the state legislature was prior to my arrival in Colorado.)
The more I read about Ms. Williams, the more I think that Maes gets little benefit from her other than trying to capture some of the Weld County (and possibly Larimer County) voter enthusiasm generated by Ken Buck.
Williams positions herself -- and Maes positions her -- as a moderate conservative. While that is appealing to a segment of voters, Maes absolutely must get almost all Republicans to have a chance of winning; he must keep GOP voters from defecting to Tancredo in addition to trying to thread the needle in a way that keeps himself appealing to independent voters and maybe a few Dems.
I just cringed when reading this Maes statement in the Denver Post: "I have to be humble enough before God and say I know what I lack, and what I lack is Tambor Williams."
What this statement does is turn off voters who, whether you like it or not, don't want their politicians to be getting their answers from a non-terrestrial source, while telling conservatives who might appreciate Maes' heavenly appeal that what he's missing is a running mate perceived as not being a principled conservative.
I know Maes is trying to appear humble, as he says directly. Instead I think he appears unpalatable, like taking two foods such as garlic and chocolate, obviously delicious separately, and making something rather repugnant by mixing them together.
A friend -- more conservative than I am, to be sure -- sent me this opinion of Tambor Williams (written, I believe, by a third party):
She is pretty smart. Got into big issues at the legislature and generally handled them poorly. She supported Ref C (cabinet head so she had to). A friend sent me this: http://www.kdvr.com/news/politics/kdvr-maes-picks-tambor-williams-txt,0,3863703.story
This is a disaster for the GOP. Not only was Tambor the State's top regulator after voting to allow Waren Hern to continue partial birth abortions (HB97-1136), she helped pass the largest tax hike in Colorado history (Ref C) and tried to cripple us with billions more in debt (Ref D).
Tambor Williams is the poster child for everything that caused voters to distrust the CO GOP in the first place.
So why on earth would Dan's very first decision as our nominee be such an obviously ridiculous choice?
If like me you feared Dan Maes's campaign was like the Titanic going down, he just pulled aboard the biggest anchor he could find making it sink faster.
Now the base will flee to Tancredo in droves.
And the Dems haven't even layed a glove on Dan yet.
An amaesingly bad day for the CO GOP.
While this view somewhat overstates the magnitude of the impact of Mr. Maes' selection of running mate, particularly given the potential positive of the appeal of a "moderate" woman among unaffiliated or moderate Republican women voters, it's basically right in the sense that Maes needed a near miracle: he needed someone who would bring the energy that Sarah Palin brought, at least briefly, to the McCain presidential campaign.
It was a very tall order to begin with since elections are generally not about the running mate, and this one particularly not. So, I don't think a great outcome was even possible for Mr. Maes. I don't know whether Maes had a better choice available. I do have reason to believe that at least one other very credible person turned down the request to run as Maes' running mate.
I don't think Williams' abortion views are a problem for any substantial number of voters. Pro-choice voters whose primary issue is abortion won't choose Maes anyway. Her support of limited exceptions, i.e. rape, incest, life of the mother, are not wildly controversial among conservatives, at least not enough to cause most of them to abandon a candidate. (I know that Tom Tancredo had a perfect voting record in Congress with the National Right to Life Committee; I don't know whether he would allow exceptions such as those Williams supports. Tancredo's web site does not touch on the issue, which is quite rational given the bigger issues of economics, jobs, and immigration which the state is facing now and given a governor's limited ability to have any impact on abortion other than making sure taxpayer money isn't funding the procedure.)
I think her support of Referendum C is potentially a big problem, as the writer of the note above suggests. Maes cannot afford to lose very many Republican voters. But even though the deep wound caused by Bill Owens, State Senator Steve Johnson, Bruce Benson and other Republican supporters of Ref C in 2005 seems nearly healed, my recollection is that Tom Tancredo, while on the periphery of the debate, was against C & D, and is likely to pick at that scab in attacks against Maes. After all, if it was fair game in attacking Jane Norton, it will be fair game in attacking Tambor Williams. If anything, Jane Norton had much more plausible deniability in the sense that she doesn't say she really supported the measures; rather she was supporting her boss. Williams has already said she really supported C & D with the rather weak caveat that she only supported them if both passed, not if only one passed as ended up being the case.
At the end of the day, Tambor Williams seems like a bland attorney who brings as much negative as positive to the ticket. She's not the worst possible choice for Maes, but I doubt she helps him in any substantial way and she may be a slight net negative among conservative Republican voters.
It's getting near too late for Dan Maes to get out of this race. I continue to believe he should, particularly given Tom Tancredo's offer to get out simultaneously (which Maes rejected yesterday.) And I also believe I should win the Powerball lottery this week. At this point, it seems the chance of either is about the same.
p.s. I would add that Dan Maes' trying to create some sort of "gotcha" moment on the radio by asking Peter Boyles if he had Tom Tancredo's tax returns was weak, pathetic, and showed yet again his utter lack of experience. Did Maes really think that Tancredo would be as unprepared or unwilling to share the information as Maes was, particularly given that Tancredo has been a congressman? Tancredo had his tax returns to Boyles the next day, making Maes look that much worse both for asking the question and by reminding people that he took forever to show his own tax returns as well as the lack of success they showed. By calling for Tancredo's tax returns in the way he did, Maes showed again that he's just not ready for prime time.
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