Maes beats McInnis, to face Hickenlooper, Tancredo

By Karen E. Crummy and Christopher N. Osher , The Denver Post

Poised for an improbable triumph, Republican Dan Maes took the stage just before midnight to declare victory over former Congressman Scott McInnis for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Maes — an unknown, underfinanced gubernatorial candidate who has never held public office — was ahead by more than 1 percentage point, leading McInnis 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent, with 93 percent of the vote counted.

“I am confident I am your Republican candidate for governor,” Maes told supporters at Lodo’s Bar & Grill in Denver. The Denver Post called the race for Maes shortly after midnight.

Earlier in the evening, McInnis had told his supporters to “go home, get some sleep and we’ll know results in the morning.” He made no further statements.

Maes implored former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is planning to run as a third-party candidate, to drop out of the race.

“Tonight is a celebration, but there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room we must address,” he told the cheering crowd. “Mr. Tancredo, stop your campaign tonight!”

Maes said the Democrats can be defeated but the Republicans needed to be united.

There still remained a possibility the primary may drag through another week. If two candidates finish within the margin of half a percentage point, it triggers an automatic recount in Colorado. A candidate may also request a recount if the margin is larger, but has to pay for it.

An energetic McInnis, his family by his side, had talked to his supporters at The Stampede in Aurora about 10:30 p.m.

“We’re going to win this. You can count on it,” he said to about 200 people, who chanted his name and waved green campaign signs.

In his victory statement late Tuesday, Maes thanked his family, including his wife, Karen, whom he said had a birthday the day before that nobody noticed.

“For someone like me to stand here doing what I’m doing is a testament to the American dream,” said Maes. “As many of you know I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. To come from those meager beginnings and find ourselves to be the Republican nominee for the state of Colorado is a testament that the American dream is alive and well.”

Maes added that he had defied party insiders.

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