Tom Tancredo says ‘it won’t take much’ to push him into Colorado GOP’s gubernatorial primary

Author: Ernest Luning - August 23, 2017 - Updated: August 28, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo talks about the "cult of multiculturalism" at the inaugural meeting of the Douglas County Tea Party on Feb. 3, 2016, in Castle Rock. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo talks about the “cult of multiculturalism” at the inaugural meeting of the Douglas County Tea Party on Feb. 3, 2016, in Castle Rock. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

A Golden-based political action committee began circulating a petition Tuesday urging Tom Tancredo to run in next year’s GOP primary for governor of Colorado, but the former five-term congressman told Colorado Politics he’s so angry at Republicans that “it won’t take much” to persuade him to run.

Tancredo called it “infuriating” and “appalling” that Republican officials and candidates have kept silent after a Colorado Springs resort cancelled a conference booked by VDARE, an organization that describes itself as devoted to immigration reform — it’s named after Virginia Dare, the first child born to English settlers in North America — but that opponents charge is a hate group with ties to white nationalists.

“If I decide to run (for governor), I won’t have to be drafted,” Tancredo told Colorado Politics in an email Tuesday night. “I am so mad at the Republicans who are presently in office or in the hunt for not speaking out in defense of free speech that it won’t take much to push me over the line. This Colorado Springs thing is infuriating.”

Tancredo added, “[T]he silence of the Republicans in this state was appalling. Not one came to (the) defense of liberty.”

Tancredo, who had been invited to speak at VDARE’s planned April conference at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, excoriated “local officials in the most heavily Republican county in Colorado” for bowing to threatened protests and encouraging resort owners to pull the plug on the conference in a Breitbart News column published Monday.

“It appears that in Colorado Springs, the left does not need to show up and disrupt an event, they can merely threaten to do so and city officials run for cover like cockroaches,” Tancredo wrote.

Noting that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, a Republican and former Colorado attorney general, warned the resort the city wouldn’t provide police protection against protesters, Tancredo blasted the mayor for “blaming the conference sponsors for being the disrupters of the public peace, not the people threatening to disrupt the event.”

In a lengthy email delivered Tuesday, the recently formed America’s Constitution PAC — its website launched on July 4 with the message, “Tell Senate Republicans: Repeal Obamacare immediately! No compromises, no deals!” — argues Tancredo has the best chance of beating “Democrats and liberal Republicans” and includes numerous links to a “Draft Tom Tancredo for Colorado governor” petition.

Signed by someone named “Kyle W” — he describes himself as “a patriotic conservative native Coloradan who’s tired of seeing our state slip down the path of liberal decay” — the email says Tancredo “will not back down when confronted by Radical Liberals in the Democrat and Republican Parties” and calls him a leader “fighting for secure borders and against sanctuary cities.”

Voters in next year’s election, the email maintains, “will determine whether Colorado adheres to the Constitution or whether we follow California and Illinois down the drain.”

A spokeswoman for the PAC didn’t respond to an inquiry from Colorado Politics.

Tancredo, who campaigned for president in 2008, has run twice for governor of Colorado — on the American Constitution Party ticket in 2010 and in the GOP primary in 2014.

Although he lost to Democrat John Hickenlooper in the 2010 election, Tancredo ran 25 points ahead of Republican nominee Dan Maes, nearly consigning the Colorado GOP to minor-party status. Tancredo came in second, 3.5 points behind former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez in the four-way 2014 primary, ahead of Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp. Hickenlooper defeated Beauprez in the fall to win a second term and is term-limited after next year’s election.

Tancredo represented the 6th Congressional District for a decade, first winning election to the seat in 1998. Before that, he was elected to two terms in the Colorado House of Representatives in the late 1970s and worked in the U.S. Department of Education under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush.

Tancredo announced in October 2015 he was quitting the Republican Party and changing his registration to unaffiliated after “years of watching the downward spiral of the Party of Lincoln and Reagan into the Party of Democrat Lite.” (He would have to affiliate with the GOP by Jan. 1 in order to run for governor in next year’s election, according to state election rules.)

At last count, seven Republicans are running for governor with at least three prominent potential candidates in the wings.

The declared GOP candidates are 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, former investment banker Doug Robinson, entrepreneur and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, 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 the race include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and former CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham, who finished second in last year’s U.S. Senate primary.

The field is narrower on the Democratic side, with just four declared candidates — U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and businessman Noel Ginsburg — and a candidate who has said she’s exploring a run, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a former top executive with health care giant Kaiser Permanente.

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.