Are you ready for this?
“I see this race as Tom Tancredo and everyone else.”
That’s what Colorado Republican sage Dick Wadhams said on “The Dan Caplis Show” on 710KNUS Wednesday afternoon about next year’s governor’s race. And nobody knows races like Wadhams, a national-caliber campaign guru who ran the race for the last Republican governor, Bill Owens, in 1998.
Tancredo is the alt-right icon who is hard to imagine in the front of the pack, but if the crowded Republican field has four or five candidates in the race, then Tancredo has the edge.
He has a dedicated group of Trump-type supporters who back his tough views on immigration and other bedrock conservative values, which Wadhams estimated at about 23 percent of primary voters.
“No one else comes close to that,” he told Caplis.
Other Republicans tell Colorado Politics that Tancredo’s ceiling is also at about 23 percent, because moderate voters won’t support his strident views. That means sending him into the general election makes it easy on the Democrat — another big field of capable hopefuls that include Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, Congressman Jared Polis, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and former state Sen. Mike Johnston.
But Wadhams said he expects presumed GOP frontrunner Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, entrepreneur Victor Mitchell and retired investment banker Doug Robinson to make it to the primary by either petition by a nomination at the state Republican convention.
“That’s quite a few on the ballot to try to take down one guy,” Wadhams said on the radio.
Coffman got in the race Wednesday, and she, Tancredo and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler were expected to divide up the far-right vote, leaving Stapleton with an easy route to the nomination. But word broke Wednesday that Brauchler is eyeing a jump to the attorney general’s race, now that Coffman is running for governor.
“That probably strengthened Tom Tancredo’s hand in the primary,” Wadhams said.
He saw Brauchler’s failure to launch in the governor’s race as three-fold: Brauchler had dismal fund-raising in the third quarter that raised doubts about his viability. He let go of his campaign manager and said he wouldn’t fill the job until next year, which Wadhams thought was a terrible tactical decision, and then Tancredo’s entry into the race.
If Brauchler runs for attorney general he could face state Rep. Cole Wist in the GOP primary. Wist, the assistant House minority leader and a powerhouse attorney, is considering getting in.
“I don’t know that George can win the nomination without a primary, but, yeah, on balance I do think this is a good move for George,” Wadhams said.
Caplis, a staunch Republican, said the GOP field in the governor’s race — eight or nine candidates depending on what Brauchler does — doesn’t have any “knuckleheads.”
“We have to avoid the circular firing squad, (but) how do we make sure of that when we have a stable of ambitious … very talented people who have fought their way to the top,” Caplis said. “These are fighters.”