Tom Tancredo fires back at Mike Coffman: ‘No, I’m not bored’

Author: Ernest Luning - September 22, 2017 - Updated: September 23, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo talks about a potential run for governor of Colorado at a meeting of the North Jeffco Tea Party on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, at Brunswick Zone Wheat Ridge Lanes in Wheat Ridge. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo talks about a potential run for governor of Colorado at a meeting of the North Jeffco Tea Party on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, at Brunswick Zone Wheat Ridge Lanes in Wheat Ridge. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

As former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo makes the rounds at conservative gatherings, asking for advice as to whether or not he should run for governor of Colorado next year in what’s already a jam-packed Republican primary, he wants the man who took his place in Congress to know one thing.

“Mike Coffman was on the TV or radio, I guess, the other day, saying the only reason I’m doing this is because I’m bored and desire the spotlight,” Tancredo said Thursday night at a meeting of the North Jeffco Tea Party in Wheat Ridge. “I think maybe, Mike, the reason he thinks that is because he doesn’t have grandchildren — because, if you have grandchildren, you know you’re never bored.”

Some in the crowd of about 50 hissed when Tancredo uttered Coffman’s name — before the Aurora Republican won election to the 6th Congressional District seat in 2008, Tancredo had represented it for five terms — and then broke into laughter as Tancredo spoke.

“No, I’m not bored,” he said. “As for the limelight?” He gave a quizzical look. “Again, I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life. I’ve been able to accomplish things I’d never, ever have imagined.”

A few days earlier, Coffman had speculated on a radio appearance with KHOW’s Krista Kafer about Tancredo’s motivation for what could be his third gubernatorial run.

“I think [Tancredo] misses the spotlight,” Coffman said, according to a report by BigMedia blogger Jason Salzman. “He really thrives on the attention. And I think he’s bored. I mean, this is cheap entertainment for him. I think it will be awfully hard on the Republican Party.”

Colorado Politics was first to report Tancredo was considering another campaign for governor — he’s run twice before, once on a third-party ticket — and that he’d changed his registration from unaffiliated to Republican “just in case” he decides to run. In the weeks since, Tancredo has met with Republican and tea party groups — “my base,” he says with a chuckle — to talk about a potential campaign.

Already, nearly a dozen Republicans are running or nearly certain to run for the office held by term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper. (About half that many Democrats are in their party’s primary.)

About midway through a half-hour discussion about his possible candidacy Thursday night, Tancredo brought up Coffman’s remarks on the radio and spent some time contradicting the suggestion he had too much time on his hands or missed the arena.

Tancredo recounted his years in and out of public office and talked about some of his previous campaigns, including a run for president a decade ago, when he jumped in the GOP primary to make sure illegal immigration, his signature issue, got some attention.

“I need to know what you think, because I am trying to gauge the viability of my candidacy,” he said. “I am not here to do what I did in 2007 when I ran for the presidency. That was, indeed, what I call a beau geste — it was something I needed to do, it was my swan song as I was getting ready to leave Congress and I had done everything I possibly could do on an issue that was incredibly important to me.”

Then he detoured for a while to tell a story about the first Republican presidential primary debate that cycle, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, and the question that was finally posed to him. It involved organ donors and left Tancredo stymied, because it was one topic he hadn’t figured out ahead of time how to work immigration into an answer.

Returning to Coffman’s assessment, Tancredo shook his head.

“It is not the spotlight, it is not boredom that drives me to ask you your opinion on this,” he said. “It is because I need to know whether you think this is a viable candidacy.”

Nearly everyone in the crowd nodded, some applauded and a few called out words of encouragement.

Tancredo told Colorado Politics he’ll continue canvassing for advice and doesn’t have a deadline in mind before he decides. “I’ve got time,” he said.

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.