Can a poor man run for governor of Colorado? Can we trust him?
Essentially, that's the thrust of the Denver Post's front-page story today about Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dan Maes.
Maes finally released limited information about his family income on Tuesday, after refusing to release income-tax returns to the Post, as the newspaper had asked, for the past several months.
The information released Tuesday shows why. Maes and his wife are poor people despite Maes' business having had one good $300,000 year.
Again, the thrust of the Post's coverage is: Can Colorado trust a small-business owner who has barely been able to cover the costs of his family's survival for the past 10 years as a governor responsible for maintaining and managing a multi-billion-dollar state budget.
It's a somewhat legitimate question, but it belies the Post's prejudice in favor of the rich and obviously successful. Presuming, of course, that only the rich are successful.
Most small-business owners struggle to make a living; that's why help for small business is a middle-income issue that gets to the heart of an economic recovery. That's why banks resist government calls to increase lending to small businesses. The risks are high.
Maes doesn't have to be ashamed of his small-business record of not-so-great revenue growth. But he shouldn't hide it from voters. Republican money men may not vote for it; even Democrats will not look favorably upon it. But voters should know how much of a bluff his lifestyle has been.
It's the only way for voters to make the safest bet on a future leader.