Tancredo readies run for governor

Tom Tancredo, shown during a television interview in Denver.

Much to the chagrin of his Republican colleagues, former congressman Tom Tancredo announced Monday he will seek the nomination for Colorado governor as a candidate for the American Constitution Party.

That announcement, which Tancredo threatened to make late last week if the two GOP governor candidates didn’t drop out, drew immediate rebukes from Republicans.

“He’s embarking on this very destructive act of running as a minor party candidate, which will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to defeat (Democrat) John Hickenlooper,” state GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said Monday. “If we had a head-to-head with Hickenlooper, we could still beat him. It’s the third party that will kill us. That siphons off enough votes to make it virtually impossible for a Republican to win.”

Tancredo couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but on a Denver talk radio station Friday morning, the former congressman from Denver’s southeast suburbs said he made the decision because he no longer believes the two Republicans in the race, Dan Maes and Scott McInnis, can win it.

Tancredo said the two have run into serious campaign problems. Maes was forced to pay a $17,500 fine, the largest in the state’s history, for campaign-finance violations, including reimbursing himself more than $40,000 in mileage costs. The McInnis campaign, meanwhile, was rocked by his admission that he plagiarized material in a project for which he was paid $300,000, and that he tried to blame it on an 82-year-old man whom he had hired for a few hundred dollars to do the work.

On Denver radio station KHOW-AM early Monday, host Peter Boyles moderated as Tancredo and Wadhams called each other liars over the matter.

On that program, Tancredo said Wadhams had agreed in numerous private conversations that neither McInnis nor Maes had a chance to win the race against Hickenlooper.

“You hate the people you’ve got on the ballot. You dislike them both. You don’t trust either one. You’ve told me on more than one occasion that your opinions of Scott McInnis are untrustworthy, your opinion of Dan Maes, a joke,” Tancredo said to Wadhams. “Those were your words, and you’ve said them many times.”

Wadhams denied uttering those words and questioned whether Tancredo could become governor any better than McInnis or Maes, adding he would make the race worse for Republicans when he starts campaigning.

“What would your agenda be, Tom?” Wadhams asked Tancredo. “Are you going to be talking about impeaching (President Barack) Obama and bombing Mecca and all that stuff?”

Tancredo, who ran a failed bid for the GOP nomination for president in 2008, is known for making outrageous statements.

During his presidential bid, Tancredo called for the bombing of Mecca to fight Islamic terrorists. While campaigning earlier this month for Ken Buck, a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, he called Obama the greatest threat to the nation, more so than those terrorists.

In a Washington Times column printed Thursday, Tancredo repeated that assertion.

“Yes, Mr. Obama is a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda,” he wrote. “When a dedicated enemy of the Constitution is working from the inside, we face a far more dangerous threat.”

The American Constitution Party has a candidate for governor, but that candidate, Benjamin “Big Ben” Goss, is expected to withdraw, and the party’s central committee is expected to name Tancredo to replace him. The former congressman officially changed his party affiliation Monday from Republican to the ACP, Secretary of State spokesman Richard Coolidge said.

Though he couldn’t be reached for comment, Goss released a lengthy statement on his website, http://www.goss4governor.com:

“I call on chairman Wadhams to stop worrying about the American eagle flying outside his fence and to be more concerned with the coyotes squabbling in his own hen house,” Goss wrote. “The chairman’s statements echo more distress than substance. His shrill cries of dismay can only be heard as a cry of ‘wolf.’ “

Last week, Tancredo called on both candidates to vow that whoever wins next month’s primary will get out of the race, if polling and campaign donations make it clear they are too far behind to win it, and allow a third, stronger candidate to become the party’s nominee.

Both declined.

While McInnis declined to comment on Tancredo’s announcement other than to say he was focusing on issues, Maes said Tancredo is making it harder for both of them.

“Coming from a man whose career has been marked by often-astonishing levels of arrogance, this move shouldn’t surprise us,” Maes said in a statement Monday. “And yet, one would suppose that even someone of Tancredo’s conceit would bow to the greater good in a year such as this.”

Later Monday, Wadhams criticized Tancredo for breaking his term-limits pledge and by pretending to be a political outsider after five decades in politics, and called on Tancredo to return $1.5 million to the federal government for the pension he has received since retiring from Congress.

“Now that’s he’s made it official that he is going to seek the American Constitution Party nomination, they make a big deal about wanting to eliminate congressional pensions and salaries,” Wadhams told The Daily Sentinel on Monday. “He ought to forgo his pension, and he ought to reimburse the taxpayers for $1.5 million that he was paid over a 10-year period. He’s accepted that platform and that party as his new home, so he ought to pony up.”


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