Westword’s Michael Roberts digs into the strange phenomenon that is Colorado Republicans lining up to support Tom Tancredo’s insurgent bid. Do they realize who they are playing with?
Against all odds, Tom Tancredo seems to be gaining momentum in his third-party gubernatorial run. With pundits essentially writing off Republican nominee Dan Maes, whose recent attempt to raise $500,000 in a day fell over $400,000 short, Tancredo operations manager Cliff Dodge is buoyed by new poll numbers and confident that a fundraiser Sunday featuring controversial Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio and local hero Dog the Bounty Hunter will lead directly to Tancredo TV ad buys…
The independents “mean everything,” he says. “We have to get a huge plurality of Republicans, naturally, but we have to get over half of the independents — and then we have to have some of the Democrats to win this race — and we think we can do it.” To him, inching ahead in independent voters is “a huge step.”
Getting Republican voters to cast their ballots for Tancredo represents a different kind of challenge — convincing people accustomed to supporting the GOP to make the leap. In this respect, he thinks a new batch of radio spots featuring former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez will have an impact.
“He’s the consummate Republican,” Dodge says of Beauprez. “He was chairman of the party, a congressman, and he has seen the light. He’s willing to lend his name and his voice. That ad wasn’t scripted. It was off the top of his head. And we think [former Republican Senate candidate] Bob Schaffer is going to do one of these non-scripted things, too.
“The message has got to be that it’s okay for Republicans to vote for Tom Tancredo, because principles matter,” he continues…
Folks, we can’t tell you what’s possessing so many in the GOP to embrace Tancredo, who for years has been a toxic pariah. Tancredo’s trending-toward-naked-racism views on immigration, and his disastrous lack of a filter when it comes time to open his mouth on most any issue–from foreign policy to Supreme Court nominees–basically left him without mainstream friends or job prospects once his term in Congress was over. Tancredo was blacklisted from the Bush White House, and as top strategists like Karl Rove look at the changing demographics of the American electorate, it becomes clear that Tancredo is pure poison to the Republican Party long-term.
He’s also a big problem for Colorado Republicans: as we’ve discussed, if Republicans were to switch to Tancredo in enough numbers to actually elect him, however improbable, it could easily consign the Republican Party to minor-party status. But there’s a more fundamental issue than that, even–don’t the same demographic trends showing Hispanics to be the fastest-growing bloc of voters across the country matter in Colorado as well? What is the value of supporting Tancredo if he can’t win, and in every long-term sense he is lethal to the survivability of your party?
It’s not that anybody is in control of this impending train wreck at this point: it’s possible that moves to support Tancredo initially had more to do with Dick Wadhams pressuring Dan Maes to get out of the race than actually wanting Tancredo, but it didn’t work. The people who had a chance to stop this were GOP “elder statesmen,” such as they are, like Bob Schaffer and Bob Beauprez; and for them, embracing Tancredo’s baggage is preferable to isolating Maes and focusing attention elsewhere–no matter what it means for Republicans running five years from now. We find this decision, on an objective level, inexplicable. And we do believe they will regret it.
No folks, we could look back in a few years and view the GOP’s desperate lurch to Tancredo in 2010 as a moment when, having lost a battle, they proceeded to cost themselves the war.