Tancredo’s Giddy-Up Draws 1,300 GOP Riders

Leslie Jorgensen, Colorado Statesman, October 22, 2010

Tom Tancredo faced a rocky ride in late July when he switched political saddle brands–from Republican Party to American Constitution Party–and tossed his hat into the governor’s race. Judging by recent polls and a record-breaking turnout at the “Tancredo Republican Round-up” on Saturday, Oct. 18, the former 6th District Congressman is leaving GOP contender Dan Maes in the dust.

During the ACP candidate’s rally at The Stampede Country Dance Hall, more than 1,300 Republican revelers celebrated a Rasmussen poll showing Tancredo within four points of Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper. According to the survey conducted Oct. 14 of most likely voters, Denver Mayor Hickenlooper has 42 percent and Tancredo, 38 percent. The crowd also cheered erosion of support for Maes–reportedly 12 percent of voters surveyed.

Recalling the fallout on his decision to enter the race, Tancredo said that he needed to win an estimated 65 percent of Republican votes to win the General Election. The campaign also sought 44 percent of independent voters and 8 percent of Democrats, both goals have been surpassed according to the Rasmussen poll.

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Looper and Lambert, a recent convert to Tancredo from Maes, implored folks to call their friends in El Paso County and convince them to support “the only conservative candidate” for governor–Tancredo. A major stumbling block in the county populated with Republicans and conservatives, Lambert said, has been the influence of The Constitutionalist Today publication that devoted most of its recent monthly issues to bolstering Maes and bashing Wadhams and the so-called Republican Party elite.

Meanwhile, Tancredo appears to be galloping to the finish line like a Pony Express rider speeding past wagon trains and stage coaches in the once Wild West. But folks at The Stampede characterized this race for governor as the “wildest” they’ve ever seen.

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Would-be governor Tom Tancredo and his surrogates have run a full-court press on GOP rival Dan Maes in recent weeks, snaking supporters out from under the struggling candidate and upping pressure for Maes to exit the three-way race.

With the former Republican congressman within single digits of Democrat John Hickenlooper in a few public polls, some of the pressure has been overt.

Tancredo campaign manager Bay Buchanan recently called a Maes supporter insisting “the time is absolutely now” for Maes to give up. Others make poll-backed claims that Tancredo is the only electable conservative.

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Political analysts once bearish on Tancredo’s chances in a three-way race now say a win appears a real possibility if Maes slips into the single digits. A Maes exit would set Hickenlooper–the front-runner tracking in the low to mid-40s in polls–back on his heels, said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.

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An Oct. 15 Rasmussen Reports poll that showed Tancredo was 4 points behind Hickenlooper, which prompted the call from Buchanan to Maes supporter Joe Harrington. The two talked several times that week about a possible Maes exit, both said.

Harrington proposed Maes drop out and join a hypothetical Tancredo administration, if public opinion favored it. Buchanan said any promise of that kind would violate state laws against paying political candidates to drop their election bids.

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Buchanan said she was referring to planning a news conference announcing Maes’ resignation from the race, not a deal for future employment.

Tancredo, in the meantime, continues to pick up high-profile Republican endorsements, most recently U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn on Thursday.

State Sen. Ted Harvey, one of Tancredo’s surrogates in the legislature, said he has been on the phone every day with fellow Republicans trying to secure endorsements for Tancredo. His most effective message can be boiled down to one word: redistricting.

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Tancredo has made a concerted effort to reach out to Tea Party-type activists as well, Buchanan said.

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