GOP voter desertion fuels Tancredo

Tom Tancredo, shown during a television interview in Denver.

Turnout in Tuesday’s primary reached an impressive 48 percent statewide for the Republican Party, but one-tenth of those voters didn’t bother to vote when they came to the section of the ballot to pick a candidate for governor.

More than 19,000 Republicans who did vote in the U.S. Senate race didn’t choose either former congressman Scott McInnis or Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, who ended up winning the race by a 1.4 percentage-point margin.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo, who left the GOP last month to launch his own gubernatorial bid with the American Constitution Party, said it was because McInnis and Maes were poor candidates, but Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams put at least some of the blame on Tancredo.

“Those 19- or 20-thousand people clearly are a combination of Republicans who didn’t like either candidate or who support Tancredo,” Wadhams said Wednesday. “That’s a significant number.”

Of the 407,110 Republicans who voted either for Ken Buck or Jane Norton for U.S. Senate, 19,341, or 4.8 percent, left blank the check box next to Maes’ and McInnis’ names.

Tancredo said that while some of those people may end up supporting his bid for governor, the reason they didn’t vote in the gubernatorial race on Tuesday wasn’t because of him.

“Four hundred thousand people were asking themselves, ‘Who’s the worst one?’” Tancredo said with a hearty laugh. “I’ve never seen a race like this in my life. I wonder how many people were holding their nose and voting. The 20,000 were holding it, but still the smell came through, and the stink was so bad they thought, ‘I can’t do it.’ “

While McInnis lost the race by a scant 5,351 votes, he won more than half of the state’s 64 counties. A majority of Republicans in 33 counties, including nearly all in the 3rd Congressional District that he once represented, cast their votes for McInnis. His biggest county win was in Mesa County, where Republicans supported him by more than 2 to 1.

McInnis declined to discuss the race Wednesday. His campaign spokesman, Sean Duffy, said the former candidate was not granting any interviews to the media.

Meanwhile,  pressure already is being put on some candidates to drop out of the race, but most of it is coming from Tancredo to get Maes to leave.

“Somebody should talk to Dan because I think he’s the third-party candidate now,” Tancredo said. “Let’s see whether or not he would consider doing that. Otherwise, he’s splitting the vote, is he not? I think he’d better consider it.”

Wadhams said he’s not planning to ask anyone to get out. Instead, his job is to back Maes through November. He said he will leave it to others to pressure Tancredo to drop out.

“I was very forceful in my remarks when he got into the race to begin with, and my thoughts haven’t changed,” Wadhams said. “His presence will result in the election of (Democrat) John Hickenlooper as governor, and that’s just the reality of it. There’s nothing I can do about that. He’s got to come to his own conclusion about what role he wants to play in this election.”


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