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As for the ad, “It’s extremely unfortunate that Tom feels the need to attack a fellow conservative instead of focusing on the tax-and-spend liberal in the race,” said Mr. Strauch.

He’s referring to Mr. Hickenlooper, the front-runner whose candidacy has taken a back seat to the soap opera playing out on the Republican side of the race.

“I saw someone write that Tancredo is now the leading loser, because he may be ahead of Maes but they’re both losing to Hickenlooper,” said Mr. Ciruli. “They’re basically dividing the Republican base.”

Mr. Tancredo and Republicans repeatedly called on Mr. Maes to drop out of the race after he won the primary against the embattled former Rep. Scott McInnis, whose campaign foundered in the wake of plagiarism charges.

When Mr. Maes refused, Mr. Tancredo entered the race anyway, saying that the Republican candidate was “no longer viable.”

A newcomer to politics, Mr. Maes tripped up early with campaign reimbursement violations that cost him $17,500 in fines.