Tancredo says Maes shouldn’t be governor

Posted 8/21/10

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo staunchly defended his controversial third-party bid for governor on Aug. 19 at a campaign stop for the South Metro …

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Tancredo says Maes shouldn’t be governor


Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo staunchly defended his controversial third-party bid for governor on Aug. 19 at a campaign stop for the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce in Centennial.

The former 6th District Republican congressman spoke to about 60 chamber members on the day after Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes rejected Tancredo’s proposal that both candidates step aside for benefit of conservative unity.

“I did not do this in order to create confusion or in order to advance a personal agenda,” Tancredo said of his run as the American Constitution Party candidate. “If it was all an ego-driven thing, I would have done this a long time ago.”

In an unprecedented move, Colorado Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams hand delivered Tancredo’s withdrawal offer to Maes, a first-time candidate who has been under increased scrutiny for financial impropriety.

Maes has already paid $17,500 — possibly the largest fine in state history — for campaign-finance violations. He said he could not recall whether $300 given by former Greenwood Village Mayor Freda Poundstone was to help pay his mortgage or was a campaign contribution — a potential violation because the gift was not disclosed and was more than $100.

Some Republicans have suggested that Maes step aside and allow a more formidable candidate to take the reins. Activists have been even more critical of Tancredo, whose run, they say, will split the Republican vote and effectively hand a win to Democratic Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Tancredo says he disagrees. The candidate argued that he has a better chance of winning a three-way race than Maes has in a two-way contest with Hickenlooper, who has raised more than 10 times the money Maes has.

“Strange things can happen and will,” Tancredo said of his chances. “What I need of course is a funding level that allows me to go ahead with a credible campaign. … I can and will be a viable option, a conservative option.”

The former congressman entered the race last month after issuing an ultimatum to Maes and his GOP primary opponent, former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis. Tancredo had asked both candidates to pull out if the primary winner trailed Hickenlooper in the polls. Both Republicans refused and Tancredo was named the American Constitution nominee.

McInnis had been the favorite of the party establishment until a plagiarism scandal derailed his front-runner candidacy. Maes, who had become popular in the Tea Party movement, defeated McInnis by 1 percentage point in the primary.

According to Tancredo, Maes “cannot” win the general election, and at this point, “should not” win it.

“I don’t believe he is the person he says he is,” Tancredo said of Maes.

Tancredo has largely focused his campaign on management of the $19 billion state budget. He blamed Gov. Bill Ritter and the Democrat-controlled Legislature for financially “unsustainable” state governance and a $1 billion budget shortfall.

At the chamber, Tancredo was particularly critical of Ritter’s controversial executive order that allowed state employees to unionize — especially in light of the economic downturn.

“It’s not going to be pretty,” Tancredo said of his pledge to reverse Ritter’s order. “[Public-employee unions] went to the Joint Budget Committee at the height of the greatest recession this state has faced since the Depression, perhaps, and demanded increases in salaries, increases in benefits.”

The candidate said, if elected, he would oversee a range of executive, legislative, and if necessary, citizen-initiative efforts, to drastically reduce what he says is an irresponsible government.

“The problem is massive and it’s going to get bigger and bigger,” he said. “By pretending we can smooth it over is simply whistling past the graveyard. … Now, who do you trust to take these issues on?”

The former congressman, who had made illegal immigration his signature issue, contrasted his record with that of Hickenlooper, who Tancredo says has fostered a “sanctuary city” as mayor.

“What do you think his policy is going to be in the state of Colorado?” Tancredo asked. “If you want to talk jobs, if you want to talk about cost, how can you not talk about this issue? … [Hickenlooper] will turn this into a sanctuary state.”

As governor, Tancredo said he would lead — either in the legislature or through the initiative process — a movement to mandate the electronic verification of citizenship as a requirement for employment in Colorado.

“Who are the people who are hurt most by massive illegal immigration of low-skill, low-wage workers. It’s certainly the people at the lowest end of the economic ladder,” he said.

Tancredo has been among the most divisive figures in recent Colorado politics. During his 10 years representing most of the south suburbs, the congressman experienced no shortage of controversy — from opposing renewal of the Voting Rights Act to calling for the bombing of Mecca as retaliation to terrorism.

A Rasmussen poll shows Tancredo trailing a distant third to Hickenlooper and Maes in a three-way race.

When asked by Colorado Community Newspapers why someone so controversial would be the best choice among conservatives if there is a need for a more viable alternative to Maes, Tancredo’s answer was brief.

“You think you can find a better one?”


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