ESTES PARK – Speaking to a few hundred tea party activists Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidates Dan Maes and Scott McInnis laid out similar agendas of battling illegal immigration, cutting taxes for businesses, and making oil and gas drilling a priority again in Colorado. But as Maes targeted McInnis, it was clear McInnis was setting his sites on Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper in an attempt to paint him as a flip-flopper.
“When it comes to energy, the mayor of Denver has flip-flopped on taxes, he said before he even looked at it that he would veto Arizona’s bill on immigration, [and he] runs the largest sanctuary city in the state,” McInnis said, announcing he had raise $2 million in campaign donations. “Two weeks ago he said in front of the oil and gas folks, ‘Folks, those rules have overreached, those rules are too extreme …’ Guess what he did on Saturday: ‘Oh, I guess you must have misunderstood me … we shouldn’t do anything with those rules.'”
McInnis said Hickenlooper supports sanctuary cities, health-care reform and “going against the energy companies.”
The Colorado Independent reported that contrary to some reports, during a recent debate at the Petroleum Club Hickenlooper said that it should be up to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to look at drilling rules and regulations and create exemptions for areas of the state where they are too extreme.
“I don’t think that we need to go and change a regulation. [We] simply would allow the oil and gas commission to handle exemptions. They have that power,” Hickenlooper said at that event.
Hickenlooper further answered challenges by both McInnis and Maes that Denver was a sanctuary city, offering evidence that the city was in compliance with state law.
Maes said his immigration plan includes e-verify, SB-90 (a Colorado statute that forces municipalities to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials of illegal aliens taken into custody), and enforce status verification.
“A year ago a fine young woman did her job. A woman came in with her anchor babies and she applied for food stamps,” Maes said with admiration of the public officials. “That young lady stood up and said, ‘Your ID is not legal’ and denied her those benefits. That is the way it is supposed to work.”
Maes said that he knows of a Colorado legislator who has already created an Arizona-like immigration bill that he said he would sign if elected.
McInnis said he was proud that Maes had switched to opposing amnesty, but said he (McInnis) was the only candidate endorsed by Tom Tancredo.
Opening his speech by reminding the crowd that he had won the most delegate votes at the Colorado Republican Assembly, Maes quickly transitioned into a deluge of promises to cut taxes on businesses, cut subsidies to the environmental energy industry in the state and further cut the size of government in an effort to create a surplus for the state and generate more jobs.
Maes attacked recent McInnis comments demonstrating a dichotomy between Denver and the rural parts of the state. “We shouldn’t be talking about Western Slope versus Front Range versus Denver,” Maes said. “We should be talking about how Colorado as a state can be one of the finest states in the country, and that is how I want to do business.
Downsizing state government, bringing in strong energy and small business sectors, were the main features of Maes’s plan. He went on to say if Coloradans want to drill on the Roan Plateau, then “we can drill on the Roan Plateau, and Washington can come talk to me about it.”
Maes did not comment during the rally on a recent decision finding he transferred funds from his campaign coffers into his own bank account in the form of reimbursements for gas mileage.