Tom Tancredo asks 'the base' whether he should jump in Republican gubernatorial primary - Colorado Politics
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Tom Tancredo asks ‘the base’ whether he should jump in Republican gubernatorial primary

Author: Ernest Luning - September 13, 2017 - Updated: September 13, 2017

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Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo listens to members of the Arapahoe County Tea Party discuss whether he should joing 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 discuss whether he should joing 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 is seeking advice from conservatives as he weighs whether to join Colorado’s crowded Republican primary for governor in next year’s election.

“Here we are, once again looking at this possibility, and I assure you it is, in my own mind, the possibility — the possibility of running for governor,” said Tancredo at a meeting of the Arapahoe County Tea Party Tuesday night in Centennial.

“We really are here tonight to find out if this is a viable idea. I am not thinking of this as a beau geste,” he said, noting that he ran for president in 2008 knowing he wasn’t going to win the GOP nomination in order to advance his views on immigration. “What we are here to do tonight is to ask you what you think about this. I really mean this.”

Colorado Politics was first to report Tancredo, who ran for governor twice in 2010 and 2014, was considering another bid, and that the former five-term congressman had changed his registration back from unaffiliated to Republican “just in case” he decided to run.

Tancredo said he was spurred to consider a run because he was angry at the silence of Republican officials and candidates after a Colorado Springs resort canceled a scheduled conference of VDARE, an organization that describes itself as devoted to immigration reform but that critics call a hate group with ties to white nationalists.

Tancredo appeared before the roughly 80 people at the Arapahoe County Tea Party meeting along with potential running mate Mike Dunafon, the mayor of Glendale, to discuss what he described as his list of pros and cons.

“I’m not doing this just to push the issue of immigration. It’s either we win or we don’t, and there are too many things here — we’re coming up on a lot of very serious issues, not the least of which is redistricting. It’s enormously important. We have to have a Republican governor,” he said.

He told Colorado Politics that he was considering whether his candidacy would give Republicans the best chance to beat U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the leading Democrats running for the seat held by term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“Am I the best guy to go up against him?” Tancredo said in an interview. “Do I still have the image as a sort of an independent free thinker  — kook to some — that was what put me ahead of (Hickenlooper) in at least a couple of polls in 2010? With redistricting coming up I sure don’t want to be the spoiler who can win the nomination but lose big-time to Polis.”

Tancredo passed out ballots at the meeting Tuesday asking whether those in a attendance already supported a candidate for governor and if his entry in the race would change that. According to a rough count, it looked like the vast majority supported Tancredo’s candidacy.

He isn’t in any hurry to decide, Tancredo said after the meeting. “I want to make the right decision,” he said. “I’ve got time.”

There could be a dozen Republicans running for governor if Tancredo gets in the race. Seven candidates have made their campaigns official — 18th Judicial District Attorney Brauchler, former investment banker Doug Robinson, entrepreneur and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, Colorado Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and activist Jim Rundberg. Republicans who have said they’re considering a run include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, motivational speaker and business owner Barry Farah and former CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham, who finished second in last year’s U.S. Senate primary.

In addition to Polis, four Democrats are running in their party’s gubernatorial primary — Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and businessman Noel Ginsburg.

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. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


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