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All three of the departing staff members - policy director Mac Zimmerman, political director Dustin Zvonek and regional director Tyler Houlton - have worked for Mr. Tancredo, and two also have worked for state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry.

“They’re great people,” said Mr. Tancredo, who added that he didn’t know they were planning to leave. “They’re the kind of people who would work for a campaign if they believed in the candidate even if he were miles behind.”

Mr. McInnis also took a hit from his hometown newspaper, the Grand Junction Sentinel, which joined the Denver Post in calling on him to withdraw his candidacy.

McInnis credibility is so shredded that he can no longer be a viable candidate, much less governor,” the newspaper said in a Thursday editorial. “He should step aside.”

Other Republicans mentioned to replace Mr. McInnis are former state party Chairman Bruce Benson, who’s now chancellor of the University of Colorado, and Mr. Penry. As a millionaire oilman, Mr. Benson would be able to self-finance his campaign. Mr. Penry dropped out of the race early in order to help Republicans avoid a contested primary.

Neither has Mr. Tancredo’s name recognition or devoted following. Mr. Penry received 7 percent of the vote in the SurveyUSA poll, while Mr. Benson logged 3 percent.

Tancredo backers are working the social media in an effort to build momentum. “My e-mail box is full to the brim (from friends nationally and locally) suggesting that we all get behind Tancredo and support him for governor of Colorado,” Denver border security activist Jan Herron said in a Saturday e-mail.

The Republican nominee likely would face Democrat John Hickenlooper in the general election. Polls taken before the plagiarism allegations surfaced showed Mr. McInnis leading by five to six percentage points, while a Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday showed Mr. Hickenlooper ahead by 45 percent to 43 percent.

Although the McInnis campaign may take comfort from those poll numbers and conclude that the worst is over, it’s not, Mr. Tancredo said.

“He’s only a few points behind Hickenlooper now. He can hang on and not do too much between now and Aug. 10, and still win the primary,” Mr. Tancredo said. “But in a full-blown campaign, [the plagiarism charge] is going to be brought up over and over and over again. It would be difficult for him to survive that.”