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Colorado Republicans also like their chances of picking up seats in the state legislature, even winning back one or both of the Democrat-controlled chambers. The Republicans consider six state Senate seats winnable but need just four to regain control, according to former Senate Majority Leader John Andrews.

“Everything I’m picking up encourages me that the weak nominee we have for governor will not detract from our hopes of winning back the legislature and winning the Senate seat and congressional races,” Mr. Andrews said. “I think there will be a slingshot effect where resources that would have gone to electing a Republican governor will be used in other races. It won’t go to waste.”

In more bad news for Mr. Maes, his “tea-party” support also has eroded. Last week, following the reports about his law enforcement career, a number of prominent leaders joined Republicans in withdrawing their endorsements, including Lesley Hollywood, director of the influential Northern Colorado Tea Party.

“Alright Dan Maes - it’s time for you to go. Get out now, while the gettin’ is still good,” she said Thursday in a Facebook post.

Mr. Wadhams estimated that the candidate probably has lost about half his support among Tea Party and 9/12 leaders. “I can’t quantify that, but that’s my impression,” he said.