Colorado Hispanic Republicans to allow Tancredo to take part in forum — if his fans come up with $1,500

Author: Ernest Luning - January 1, 2018 - Updated: January 4, 2018

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo listens to members of the Arapahoe County Tea Party discuss whether he should join the Republican primary for governor of Colorado at a meeting of the organization on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Centennial. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo listens to members of the Arapahoe County Tea Party Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Centennial. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Tom Tancredo will be able to join fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates later this month at a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans if his supporters can come up with $1,500 to help pay for the event.

As of Monday afternoon, about half the money had been pledged, according to a Republican working to broker a solution in the dispute between the GOP-aligned organization and the former five-term congressman known for his hard-line positions on immigration.

The group said last week that the lineup is set and won’t include Tancredo, despite his contention he wants to join the other gubernatorial candidates at the Jan. 17 forum.

Tancredo’s campaign and other Republicans cried foul, insisting the Colorado Hispanic Republicans have a duty to treat primary candidates without bias because the state party has granted it permission to use the words “Colorado” and “Republicans” in its name. The state party, however, argues it can’t order the group — which it describes as a “club” with no official affiliation with the Colorado Republican Party — to do anything, although the state GOP chairman has been urging the Hispanic group to let Tancredo join the forum after Colorado Politics reported on the controversy.

The $1,500 will replace funds provided by an event sponsor opposed to Tancredo’s participation, said Ray Garcia, a former legislative candidate and Tancredo supporter who has been acting as an intermediary between Tancredo and his backers and the Colorado Hispanic Republicans and the group’s chairman, Hugo Chavez-Rey.

Saying the had Chavez-Rey’s blessing, Garcia called in Friday afternoon to a conservative talk radio show to explain the group’s position — Chavez-Rey has declined Colorado Politics’ requests to comment on the matter — and how the impasse developed.

The Hispanic Republicans sent Tancredo an invitation to attend, but neither he nor his campaign received it because it went to “an old email address for one of Tancredo’s former campaigns,” Garcia told listeners and guest host Randy Corporon on Friday’s Dan Caplis Show on 710KNUS. But since Tancredo didn’t respond, Garcia said, the group announced the forum, and a sponsor agreed to chip in $1,500 toward the cost of the event — on the condition Tancredo wouldn’t be allowed to participate.

“The organization that’s sponsoring it does not want Tom in there,” Garcia told Corporon and his listeners. “They are absolutely against Tom in there and said they will not sponsor it if Tom is included now.”

Garcia wouldn’t identify the sponsor, but he did say the sponsor has agreed to pull out if Garcia could come up with enough money to pay for the event. He added that he planned to talk to firearms dealers at the local Tanner Gun Show over the weekend to solicit funding.

Garcia also said Chavez-Ray’s name “was being unfairly dragged through the mud,”  maintaining the group’s chairman wants Tancredo to be part of the forum but was “just stuck between a rock and a hard place” because the nonprofit’s board had so far ruled otherwise.

“We can get this taken care of,” Garcia said, adding, “If people want Tancredo to attend the forum, all they have to do is come up with $1,500.” While a caller to Corporon’s show later called the sum “the ransom we have to pay,” the pledges started coming in.

Within minutes, Tancredo’s campaign manger, Mike McAlpine, had offered to pony up $100 to replace the sponsorship and challenged Colorado GOP Chairman Jeff Hays to do the same. Hays obliged, GOP spokesman Daniel Cole told Colorado Politics, and Cole and Corporon also each chipped in $100.

In a Facebook post Monday slugged #LetTomTalk, Garcia said he’d secured another $100 pledge to go with the $385 he’d rounded up over the weekend, bringing the total to $885.

The forum, scheduled to be held at a Westminster event center that specializes in weddings and quinicineras, currently includes six Republicans running for governor: Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former Trump campaign organizer Steve Barlock, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson and Saguache County activist Jim Rundberg.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


  • Billie L.

    January 2, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Why does the Colorado Hispanic Republicans have a problem with Tancredo attending their forum? Is it because he has been critical of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? I should think they would support a canidate looking out for Immigrants that have came here legally by following all of the rules. Are they upset on cracking down on illegal poachers from the rest of the world, say from Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, or are they upset with the focus on Mexico and other Latin American countries from which whom the majority originates? Tancredo should not pay these hypocritical shake down artists a dime to stand before them.

  • ME White

    January 3, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Racist is the word that comes to mind for this fiasco! It would be interesting to know who the “sponsor” is?

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