If it was not for a health complication, the people of Colorado might have never heard of Dan Maes, Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate.
â€œMy original career path was going to be the military, but I got a medical disqualification from my appointment to West Point when I was 18. That was very frustrating,â€ Maes said.
â€œThen I went off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and thought I would go into law enforcement,â€ he added.
When the 49-year-old Evergreen businessman declared in late 2009 that he would be launching a gubernatorial bid, he was virtually unknown on the Republican political scene.
Having no political experience outside of his high school student council days, Maes defeated former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis by more than 1 percent during the Aug. 11 Republican primary election. The final tally was 50.6 percent to 49.3 percent, with 100 percent of the vote counted.
Days before the primary vote, McInnis was accused of plagiarizing a series of essays that he was paid $300,000 to write. McInnis blamed a research assistant, and he returned the money to the Hasan Foundation, which had hired him to do the essays.
But Maes also raised eyebrows for declaring that a Denver bike-share program encroaches on â€œpersonal freedoms,â€ and that as governor heâ€™d fire 2,000 state workers â€œjust like that.â€
When he was 10 years old, Maesâ€™s father died of health complications pursuant to alcoholism. The tragedy of not having a dad around to seek out for attention and advice helped shape who he is today.
â€œI still struggle emotionally in my life,â€ he said. â€œâ€¦ (In the times) where someone would normally be able to go to their father and ask for his support or encouragement or advice â€“â€“ never having that has always been a difficult aspect of my life.â€
Politically, Maes sits proudly along the lines of Christian conservative ideology, a philosophy he is not bashful of.
One can see his faith manifested in his position on same-sex marriage, a union that he believes should remain illegal in the state of Colorado because it does not produce the same socioeconomic benefits as traditional marriages.
But Maes also said he has no tolerance for discrimination against lesbians or any other minority group, when asked if he supported the Associated Students of CSUâ€™s decision to condemn Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell for his anti-gay messages regarding Michigan Universityâ€™s openly gay student president.
Maes also maintains conservative stances when it comes to medical marijuana license regulations and overall legalization. He supports neither but accepts the fact that medical marijuana licenses are a part of Coloradoâ€™s Constitution. He said he wants the issue â€œmanaged as strictly as possible.â€
Penalties for drug use would not increase under his administration, Maes said. If anything, he said, sentencing reform that would keep nonviolent drug offenders out of prison is in order.
If elected, Maes will also focus on the following:
- Reduced tuition rates by expanding tax base,
- Relaxed business regulations,
- Support conceal carry rights,
- Reverse state funding for Planned Parenthood, and
- Require employers to electronically verify legal status of employees.
Maes has refused conservative third-party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredoâ€™s two requests to drop out of the race, despite sinking approval ratings. He currently sits at 13 percent popularity among Colorado voters, according to Public Policy Polling.
Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.