It appears Dan Maes has the advantage in next month’s Republican primary for governor now that his opponent, Scott McInnis, is officially mired in scandal over news reports that he plagiarized substantial portions of several articles for the Hasan Family Foundation.

After apologizing yesterday, the McInnis campaign claimed a research aide was responsible (Westword has McInnis’ statement in full). But that aide, Rolly Fischer, has entered the fray to defend his reputation, telling the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, “Scott’s responsible for it,” and declining further comment on the subject.

The Hasan family is asking McInnis to return the $300,000 paid for his work with the foundation.

And now, The Denver Post has dredged up more possible examples of plagiarism in one of McInnis’ speeches from the 1990s and a column he wrote for the Rocky Mountain News, both of which share striking similarities to a previously published op-ed in The Washington Post.

Adding even further to McInnis’ woes are the former congressman’s own words from yesterday. McInnis told 9News the plagiarism allegations are a “non-issue,” attempting to move on and talk about his campaign’s strong points. He added, “My guess is the average voter doesn’t really care about what I make or stuff like this. I’m sure they don’t think I haven’t made mistakes, and I’m sure they care more about their jobs.”

Political analyst Floyd Ciruli disagrees, saying the issue is “very big” for McInnis and that his handling of the matter in the coming day or so could have a major impact. “It could end his campaign, frankly; I think it’s that serious,” Ciruli adds.

Colorado state House Speaker Terrance Carroll says McInnis should withdraw because it is clear he “lacks the integrity to hold the office of governor” (via The Colorado Independent).

For his part Maes tells Politico McInnis’ explanation is very un-gubernatorial: “As a future executive in Colorado, we must take personal responsibility for what happens under our watch.”