Since announcing his candidacy for governor, Republican Dan Maes has been to Craig six times to campaign, speak with residents and raise money.
Maes said making campaign visits to small, rural towns like Craig is the primary reason for his success at the Republican state assembly, and why he defeated former Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis in the August primary.
The voices of rural Colorado voters, Maes said, are “really going to put us over the top” in the November general election.
“If there was a lesson learned that anybody could walk away with, (it is) hard work and dedication and persistence absolutely pay off,” said Maes during a Friday interview with the Craig Daily Press.
Maes said the “heat is on in the metro area” regarding his campaign.
“The forces are really trying to push us out, and we just thought getting back to a place where people like us and support us would encourage us and solidify that support,” he said of stopping in Craig.
One reason pressure has been put on his campaign, Maes said, was the July announcement that former Congressman Tom Tancredo would enter the race as the American Constitution Party’s candidate.
Maes said Tancredo entering the race has been “very difficult and very stressful” to cope with.
“We had thought we had reached a pinnacle where we could all unify and work together the way it was supposed to be and instead, I have, once again, another competitor,” he said. “Every time I win, I’m supposed to get a break, (but) someone else just comes out of nowhere and makes me have to fight that much harder, again.”
Maes also addressed the circumstances behind state GOP leaders pulling their support for his candidacy.
There is an “inconsistency,” Maes said, between what state and national Republican leaders are saying publicly, and what they are doing privately.
“Publicly, the GOP has said, ‘Dan’s our candidate,’” he said. “But, not one dime has come from the Republican Party.”
Maes said the inconsistencies stem from the feeling that he wasn’t “supposed to win” in the primary and that GOP leaders “already started planning on supporting” McInnis.
“There are people in the party who are just angry and bitter over how Scott lost,” he said. “They feel that the plagiarism situation is the only reason I won. That’s sour grapes, in my opinion. Was it factual? Yes. Was it the whole reason? No.”
Moreover, Maes said the race for the governor’s seat has “become about power.”
“The governor’s race is no longer about the governor,” he said. “It is about the control of the Republican party in the state of Colorado.”
Maes contends he could win the seat if the governor’s race was between him and the Democratic candidate, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
But, Tancredo announcing he would run for governor hasn’t changed Maes’ stance on various issues and how he would run the state if voters choose him over Tancredo or Hickenlooper, he said.
Maes said the key to solving Colorado’s economic woes is boosting the state’s energy industry.
“I want all of our energy to thrive,” he said. “I am an all-of-the-above energy person. I want the free market to drive our energy solutions, and coal has to play a part in that.”
Maes said he wants all forms of energy, including oil, gas and coal “out of the ground.” He also is advocating for the research and development of clean coal technology, he said.
Maes said he would also take a look at the state’s current oil and gas drilling regulations.
“It has been clearly communicated to me that they hurt the industry and that they have got to be re-examined and modified,” he said. “That is one of my top priorities.”
As far as improving the state’s economy outside of developing the energy industry, Maes said he would reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but ultimately, the responsibility rests at the local level.
“I (would) put the burden on each community and county and economic development area — it’s their responsibility to develop their local economy and create a business environment that is welcoming to people,” he said.