In Tancredo’s Wake, 6th CD Looks Beyond a Single Issue

Tom Tancredo, the most divisive politician in Colorado and an embarrassment in the U.S. House of Representatives, will not run for re-election.

Hallelujah. Let the healing begin. Whichever Caucasian male succeeds Tancredo in the white bread, solidly Republican 6th Congressional District, he likely won’t be talking about bombing Mecca, calling Miami a Third World city, singing the praises of torturing terrorists or singing Dixie in front of a Confederate flag.

Thank you, Jesus. Or whoever your higher power happens to be.

Constituent service took a back seat to race-baiting in Tancredo’s final term. His rants against so-called “illegal aliens” morphed into a bigot’s message against brown people. He wanted to suspend all immigration to get control of the undocumented folks crossing the southern border. He bucked any attempt to deal with an estimated 12 million undocumented workers already in the American economy with anything other than police-state tactics.

Tancredo obsessed on immigration to the exclusion of the people who elected him, most of whom are not Latino.

“The more he became focused on immigration,” said pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli, “the less he represented the district. Tom alienated himself from a substantial part of his own party.”

So much for bringing home the bacon.

The four men who have expressed interest in replacing Tancredo as the Republican nominee in next November’s election are Secretary of State Mike Coffman, state senators Tom Wiens and Ted Harvey and Will Armstrong, the son of former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong.

All four will have to talk the talk on illegal immigration to keep Tancredo from attacking them in their Republican primary campaigns. But if Coffman, Wiens, Harvey and Armstrong become single-issue nut jobs like Tancredo, they miss the chance to return the 6th CD to its rightful status. The district can be a cauldron of conservatism that pushes limited government regulation, frugal spending and low taxes without fomenting hate.

“They’ll be rhetorically in line on immigration,” Ciruli predicted, “but not single issue. Tom is in a different place.”

He didn’t use to be. Tancredo got the Republican nomination for the 6th much the way his successor will – in a multi-candidate primary that splits the vote so thoroughly that a tiny percentage of district voters actually determine who goes to Congress.

Ciruli thinks Wiens looks like the front-runner at this point. My money’s on Coffman.

Wiens failed to file timely tax returns on a group he formed supposedly to help soldiers returning from Iraq. When he did file his taxes, records show Wiens distributed less than half of what he collected in donations to actual soldiers. The majority of the money donations went to pay for administration of his group. Excessive overhead is the kiss of death to anyone claiming to operate a charity.

Moreover, Wiens and Harvey often appear strident and vindictive in their right-wing politics. Both senators look like dividers in a district crying out for unification, not to mention real representation.

Will Armstrong has never held public office.

That leaves Coffman. As Secretary of State and former State Treasurer, Coffman has won statewide election twice. He’s a former state legislator. He took a leave of absence from being treasurer to serve as a Marine officer in Iraq.

Mostly, however, Coffman is a nice guy. Coffman is a fiscal and social conservative, but even lefties like him as a person.

That’s a far cry from the human lightning rod he would replace.

And at this point, just what the 6th Congressional District needs.

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Jim Spencer

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