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Following hullabaloo, flu-stricken Tom Tancredo misses Colorado Hispanic Republican forum

Author: Ernest Luning - January 18, 2018 - Updated: January 18, 2018

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Republican gubernatorial candidates, from left, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former investment banker Doug Robinson, businessman Victor Mitchell, Trump campaign alumni Steve Barlock and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez participate in a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Westminster. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Republican gubernatorial candidates, from left, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former investment banker Doug Robinson, businessman Victor Mitchell, Trump campaign alumni Steve Barlock and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez participate in a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Westminster. (Photo by Ernest Luning, Colorado Politics)

Flu season collided with campaign season this week, sidelining Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo for a few days and keeping him from participating Wednesday night in a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans — this after organizers initially said Tancredo couldn’t take part, but then relented after his supporters raised a hue and cry and enough money to help sponsor the forum.

“I’m sorry to say Tom is sick with the flu — very sorry,” Tancredo campaign manager Mike McAlpine told the roughly 80 audience members who had gathered for the forum at a Westminster event center. “He really wishes he could be here tonight.”

Tancredo likely caught the bug last week during a visit to the state Capitol the same day Gov. John Hickenlooper, the term-limited Democrat, delivered his final State of the State address and had been laid up since Sunday, a campaign spokesman said.

Health officials are warning that this year’s flu is particularly virulent, something at least several at the forum could attest to as they shook their heads in sympathy.

“Tom is really excited about all of us being fully involved in this election and, to be very clear, Tom, like all of us, knows we absolutely must win this election,” McAlpine continued. “And he looks forward to having a Republican win this gubernatorial race.”

Following McAlpine’s remarks, the group’s chairman, Hugo Chavez-Rey, welcomed five of the nine other GOP candidates for governor, and they answered questions from debate moderator Jimmy Sengenberger for more than two hours.

Participants included Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former investment banker Doug Robinson, businessmen and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, Trump campaign alumni Steve Barlock and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez.

One candidate who had been scheduled to attend, Saguache County activist Jim Rundberg, didn’t show up, while State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III hadn’t planned to attend.

Tancredo, who served five terms in Congress and has run for governor twice before, asked to join the candidates on stage at the forum after the Colorado Hispanic Republicans announced the event in mid-December, but the organization said the lineup was set and there was no room for the hard-liner on immigration policy.

Not so fast, Tancredo supporters said, demanding that the group make room for the likely front-runner in the race.

It turned out the Hispanic Republicans had sent Tancredo an invitation to the event but had used an email address from a prior campaign. Once the others had RSVP’d, a benefactor had agreed to sponsor the event to the tune of $1,500 — but only if Tancredo was forbidden from taking part.

In a resolution arrived at on a conservative talk radio show the day after the controversy went public, Ray Garcia, a Tancredo supporter and one-time legislative candidate, proposed that Republicans who wanted to see Tancredo on the stage could come up with $1,500 to replace the funds provided by the sponsor.

Garcia managed to accomplish this over the next few days — with donations from McAlpine, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays and radio host Randy Corporon, among others — and the Hispanic Republicans added Tancredo to the event.

 

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.