With former Congressman, presidential and once-and-future gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo making lots of news lately with his defense of Donald Trump’s immigration policies and criticism of “backsliding” Republicans growing afraid to see those policies carried out, an interview with Tancredo last week pummeling his successor in Congress Rep. Mike Coffman, and calling for Coffman’s ouster by hook or by crook, is vexing so-called “establishment” GOP strategists today. Here’s the transcription of the key moment of audio above:
TANCREDO: …All of the things he said about Trump, you, you just don’t have to do that. Right? He just didn’t have to do that even before the election, all the things he called him. And then…
CAPLIS: Well, I don’t know Congressman, I think he, I think he made a calculation that he had to come out against Trump in that manner to be able to keep his seat. I think we won by such a large margin that, that he didn’t have to. I didn’t like it when he did, I think what was a stake with the presidency and control of the U.S. Supreme Court in Colorado, a possible decision state in the election, I didn’t like it when he did that.
TANCREDO: Yeah–no, neither did I, and to tell you the truth, see I would not mind at all if he failed in his next attempt, if it is to retain his seat.
CAPLIS: Even if it means Pelosi as Speaker?
TANCREDO: Or actually anything he goes for, I wouldn’t care if he failed. But I especially wouldn’t care if he failed, and I would encourage people–I have encouraged people to, to run against him in a primary, and if he lost that would be okay with me because we, I would say a conservative loses nothing if Mike Coffman loses his seat. We are not in, the Republicans are not in jeopardy of losing the House, um, and it’s not the same as a Senate seat, so really it’s not worth it, I don’t think, to have somebody in there doing the things, he you know he’s threatening a um, discharge petition. I don’t know if everybody recognizes this…
CAPLIS: Yeah, yeah.
TANCREDO: But it’s like the ultimate slap in the face, you know, to the leadership and that sort of thing. Um, and it’s not going to work, it’s just simply another little, you know it’s a showpiece that he’s doing, to again, pander, I think…
In their zeal to win over centrist voters and even some low-information liberal votes, Coffman like U.S. Senator Cory Gardner has made great efforts to affect moderation on defining political issues like immigration and reproductive choice. But in doing so, they’ve put their core constituency of conservative Republican voters at risk of, if not voting for their general election opponent, something perhaps even more damaging: base demoralization. It’s fine to make inroads with new constituencies, even formerly opposition voters–as long as you’re not alienating your base.
Because if you do, you end up with someone like Tom Tancredo telling voters you can’t afford to lose that “a conservative loses nothing if Mike Coffman loses his seat.” Obviously Tancredo would prefer that Coffman lose his seat in a Republican primary, and these words would hurt more in the event Coffman attracts a primary challenge.
It’s really not good for Coffman either way though, folks. With bad political moves like unceremoniously yanking a rare discharge petition on legislation to protect DREAM Act-eligible immigrants that he received genuine credit for initiating, Coffman’s path to successfully triangulating this issue in 2018 is more perilous than ever. Coffman definitely can’t afford to lose his right flank now.
Enter Tom Tancredo.