The plagiarism scandal plaguing Colorado Republican Scott McInnis isn’t going away, and the Denver Post reports that state party members are starting to prepare for what happens if their frontrunner drops out of the gubernatorial race. With the primary just weeks away, their options appear to be limited.
The process of trying to get a new candidate is procedurally complicated. First, the Aug. 10 primary ballots are printed and go out by mail Monday. Forty-six of the state’s 64 counties are holding all-mail elections. Second, state law is unclear. On its face, it appears to prohibit another candidate getting in the race unless both Maes and McInnis drop out. In that case, a Republican vacancy committee would appoint the nominee.
McInnis continues to downplay the incident, and says he’s staying in the race. His opponent, Dan Maes, also says he staying put. Other names floated by the Post as possibilities include: University of Colorado president Bruce Benson, ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo and state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry (who dropped out of the race in November). GOP sources told the Post that Benson’s personal fortune — and thus his ability to pay for a last minute publicity campaign — make him an attractive choice.
Another possibility is going ahead with the primary, and then the winner dropping out in the general, leaving the GOP vacancy committee to pick a candidate.
Meanwhile, the McInnis’ campaign’s argument with the researcher they blame for the plagiarism in a series of articles on water policy continues. McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy says that the researcher, 82-year-old Rolly Fischer, acknowledged to McInnis and his staff that the mistake was his. But Fischer refuses to sign a letter formally accepting responsibility that was sent to him by the campaign.
“This mistake was solely my own, and I recognize that my work fell short of the expectations you had when you included me in this project,” reads the unsigned letter, which Fischer provided to KMGH-TV.