DENVER | Colorado Republican Scott McInnis rebuffed calls to drop out of the gubernatorial race in the wake of plagiarism accusations that have rocked his campaign.
“He is not withdrawing from the race,” McInnis campaign spokesman Sean Duffy wrote in an e-mail.
Colorado Republican Party chair Dick Wadhams said that the party would not pressure Mr. McInnis to withdraw, and that even if he did, the GOP would not replace him on the primary ballot with another candidate.
“Whatever Scott decides is what ought to happen. It’s his decision,” Mr. Wadhams said. “If he withdraws, we are not going to put another name on the ballot, but having said that, I don’t think he’s going to withdraw.”
Even so, speculation about potential replacements for Mr. McInnis continued to swirl. Among those Republicans mentioned were University of Colorado president Bruce Benson, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry.
It is already too late to change the ballots for the Aug. 10 primary. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said the mail-in ballots already have been printed and will be mailed Monday.
“All county clerks have the ballots printed and ready to go,” said Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge.
If Mr. McInnis did withdraw before the Aug. 10 primary, any votes for him would not be tabulated. If he won but then withdrew, Republicans could appoint a vacancy committee to name a replacement.
Two Republicans appear on the gubernatorial primary ballot - Mr. McInnis and businessman Dan Maes. Although Mr. Maes won more delegate votes at the state convention, he’s considered the far weaker general election candidate, with little name recognition and fundraising.
The race was thrown into turmoil earlier this week when the Denver Post reported Mr. McInnis had plagiarized entire pages of an essay he wrote on water policy from a 1984 article written by Gregory J. Hobbs, now a justice on the Colorado Supreme Court.
Mr. McInnis, who was paid $300,000 by the Hasan Family Foundation for his essay, titled “Musings on Water,” blamed a researcher, Rolly Fischer, for what he described as an unintentional mistake.
In a Post article Thursday, however, Mr. Fischer accused Mr. McInnis of lying, saying he only provided raw research material to the former congressman, and that the campaign pushed him to sign a statement taking responsibility for the plagiarism.
The McInnis campaign has tried to downplay the incident, saying Mr. McInnis unfairly has been targeted and that, in any event, voters are more concerned about the economy and jobs.
Still, there wasn’t much good news for Mr. McInnis on Thursday. Denver conservative talk-show host Dan Caplis added his voice to those calling for Mr. McInnis to drop out of the race. So far, the Post and several top Democrats have said Mr. McInnis should withdraw, saying the plagiarism charge renders him unfit for the office.
Mr. McInnis had been leading the race in a hypothetical match-up with the likely Democratic nominee, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. The most recent Rasmussen Reports survey showed Mr. McInnis ahead by a margin of 46 percentage points to 41 percentage points.