What is called in the law a Scotch verdict, an agnostic shrug of “not proved,” is my sad and reluctant conclusion about next week’s Republican primary for Governor of Colorado. At present I cannot support either of the two candidates.

I was intrigued with the businessman-outsider persona of dark horse Dan Maes, and went so far as to float the case for him in my Denver Post column last Sunday, posted here as “Maes and the Medicine.” But as the evidence mounts, I deem the case very insufficient.

Dan Maes is not ready for prime time and seemingly not who he has claimed to be.

Scott McInnis has seen too much prime time, and Colorado is not ready for who we know him to be.

Which is regrettable for two public-spirited Coloradans, fundamentally decent men with devoted families—and even more regrettable for our state, which so urgently needs the limited-government leadership a qualified Republican could provide right now.

Where does this leave us on the morning of August 11 when one of these two is officially the GOP nominee? Attractive and viable options are slim to none.

A ticket-replacement maneuver is imaginable but unlikely. A plurality victory for Constitution candidate Tom Tancredo is also unlikely; Tom is my friend but won’t get my vote.

Are we looking at a handshake from outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter to incoming Gov. John Hickenlooper next January, Democrats retaining power against all odds after botching things so badly the past four years? What a pity if it comes to that.