Dan Maes Gets Real; He and Acree Talk Health
"Anybody who thinks Dan Maes has any chance of winning the Republican primary and beating Bill Ritter is simply delusional."
"Dan Maes doesn't have a chance in hell of becoming the next governor of Colorado."
Who wrote these nasty things about hard-working gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes? And what did Maes ever do to that vindictive SOB?
The lines are mine. And, while Maes has offered a pointed response, he's taken my needling well. And I respect that. An underdog who can't deal with people throwing scraps will never be anything more than an underdog.
Moreover, it seems like every political event I go to, Maes is there. I heard him give his stump speech last night at Liberty On the Rocks. I saw him Tuesday at the rally against Obama Care. I saw him last month at an Independence Institute holiday party, where Maes listened to my complaints for another twenty minutes or so. Maes takes questions -- and answers them.
Meanwhile, this is the only sign I saw of Scott McInnis (the other Republican in the race) at Tuesday's rally:
(In fairness, McInnis has given public addresses and uploaded some of these to YouTube.)
If memory serves, I first saw Maes June 27 of last year at an Aurora Republican Forum. What I recall from his speech that day is that there was nothing important to recall. LIghtweight, I thought. But last night I saw a candidate for governor. He talked energy. He can effectively challenge Governor Ritter's "New Energy Economy" with the Real Energy Economy. He talked Constitutional restraints of federal power. He talked low taxes. He spoke with passion. He spoke from the heart.
What's more, Maes is a genuine guy. He's fun to talk to. He's fun to listen to. He's even fun to make fun of. McInnis, on the other hand, is well known for his testy personality and media meltdowns.
True, Maes has suffered from lackluster fundraising (though it seems to be picking up a bit). However, Maes also beat McInnis in the unscientific, skewed poll put out by the People's Press Collective.
Delusional? No chance in hell? I was stunned that Ritter dropped out of the race. I thought Scott Brown didn't have a chance in hell of winning his U.S. Senate race. Well, it looks like hell is freezing over and political probabilities must be tossed aside.
I would like to see a Maes/Hickenlooper showdown because I'd like to see two real guys, two businessmen, have a serious discussion about the important issues facing Colorado. (I'm sure Hickenlooper would also love to face that showdown.) With McInnis, I get the feeling that his main purpose is to package his message and play it safe. (McInnis could easily change my mind on this point simply by providing straightforward answers to the Armstrongs' Colorado 2010 Candidate Survey). Moreover, last night I had a chance to chat briefly with Maes's delightful wife and elder daughter, each of whom could be a major asset to his campaign if willing to play that role.
However, Maes has some serious problems. His lack of political experience translates to difficulty raising funds. His ideological problems are more serious.
While Maes is friendly toward free markets for a Republican, generally Republicans suck on economic liberty. I worry about three things from Maes.
First, Maes is fairly strong on property rights but not as strong as I'd like. He said that eminent domain "is a constitutionally acceptable process and should be applied on a case by case basis. Application of the practice should only be exercised when there is a clear and convincing case for a purely public use and benefit." That's better than most politicians on the subject. But, for me, the right answer is that eminent domain is always and everywhere a violation of property rights.
Second, while Maes has admirably taken a stand against corporate welfare, he is amenable to discriminatory taxation. My view is that, while existing tax breaks should not be removed, otherwise we should seek to establish tax parity, rather than punish some businesses more severely than others with higher taxes. Maes said, "Our state constitution clearly states we are not to make investments in private entities. I want to honor the spirit of our federal and state constitutions. I do see tax breaks as viable incentives to spur our economy."
Third, while Maes opposed the federal health bills, he inconsistently advocates free markets in health. Here's what he said on Tuesday:
Here is the worrisome line: "We need to keep health care within the free market system. But we'd have to encourage private industry to get serious about pre-existing conditions. If they don't take on pre-existing conditions, then government has every right to do so. So I want to make sure private industry accommodates that need."
Maes's position is unclear to me. Either he is saying that insurance companies must be politically forced to ignore pre-existing conditions when accepting customers, or he is saying that tax dollars should fund government-run insurance that ignores pre-existing conditions (as Cover Colorado basically does now). The former position leads inexorably to an insurance mandate, as my dad and I have argued. (See also my earlier article.) I welcome Maes's clarification of the matter.
Again, Maes is mostly good on fiscal matters, and I have no doubt he would outperform any Democrat (and most Republicans) on economics. But Maes has a much more serious problem: social issues.
Maes has endorsed the so-called "personhood" measure likely to appear on this fall's ballot. This would ban all or almost all abortions if fully enforced. It would also outlaw forms of birth control (including the pill) and fertility care that may result in the destruction of a fertilized egg. Colorado voters overwhelmingly trounced the "personhood" measure in 2008, and Maes will make few political friends by supporting it.
Maes also said that marriage "is a privilege that is ordained in the Scripture." However, last night he granted that "civil remedies" can solve the problems of homosexual romantic unions. He said churches should not be forced to conduct gay marriages, and with that point I fully agree.
Maes strikes me as a common-sense kind of guy, so I will be interested to hear how he responds to concerns about the horrific and far-reaching implications of the "personhood" measure.
Meanwhile, all I've heard from McInnis is an ambiguous claim that he's "100 percent pro-life." Does McInnis want to outlaw absolutely all abortions? Voters deserve to know this.
As Paul Hsieh has written, independent voters, especially in Colorado, "want the Democrats out of their pockets and the Republicans out of their bedrooms."
For the first time I am very interested in following the Republican primary.
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Also at Tuesday's rally, State Representative Cindy Acree offered her take on health reform:
Acree wants "tax equity at the federal level" to allow people to buy insurance with pre-tax money. That's fantastic. However, she also wants a "new delivery system for primary care all over the state with public-private partnerships." That sound to me like more tax subsidies and government controls.
So, while Republicans rallied against the federal Democratic health bills, they hardly advocate consistently free markets in health care. Hopefully advocates of liberty will continue to persuade them.