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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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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
“You think you can find a better one?”
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