Editor Jody Strogoff at the Colorado Statesman rolls out some gems in her column this week, including an insider look into the back-channel conversations Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams and right-wing icon and third-party gubernatorial spoiler Tom Tancredo conducted on how the hell to get tea party political novice Dan Maes to drop out of the governor’s race now that he won the primary and is the official GOP nominee.
This account will make Maes supporters even more proud of their man. He seems to actually believe in the power of the vote as opposed to traditional power-broker politicking. What is Wadhams going to do with this guy?
As reported by the Statesman, the back and forths read like a Hollywood script, featuring bumbling negotiations, mutual suspicions, furtive king-making plans and comic relief all around.
Tancredo, for example, reveals that he suspected throughout that Wadhams might well be leaning on him to get involved in the “oust Maes” negotiations to (a) make it seem like the whole thing was Tancredo’s idea– that the head of the state GOP was not really trying to replace the nominee chosen by the party faithful– and (b) give the appearance that the Tancredo candidacy was not serious as a way to weaken the Tancredo candidacy in relation to the Maes candidacy.
But Tancredo doesn’t care and dives in, in his telling, pure of motive, just looking to get the GOP’s weak candidate out of the race.
The two men also plot out who they will choose to replace Maes to become our governor. There’s also, of course, a frustrated “very important big businessman” waiting in the wings to run if they could all just manage to get Maes to fold.
“I [Tancredo] know Dick, God love him, I don’t fault him. When he calls me the day before yesterday he tells me he’s talked to Maes and he’s not going to get out.
“Before that we had these —maybe five — long discussions about the whole thing which started last weekend. I had heard that Dick had had a sort of ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting with Maes on Thursday and said to him, ‘You can’t win this thing, you got no money, the RGA is walking away.’ And so I thought well, you know, let’s capitalize on that. And if the party is telling him that, then if I say by the way, if the party tells you this, I’ll get out if you get out…
“I made this offer to Dick and he liked it — a lot.
“I don’t know if he was just trying to flim flam me, maybe that was part of it, where he wanted to be involved and do this so I look weak and that sort of thing, but I guarantee you he was enthusiastic about it, at least at first.”
Tancredo continued, saying that Wadhams told him he could probably get former U.S. Senators Hank Brown and Wayne Allard aboard to support the plan.
“…I called Dick and said are you sure you talked to them, and he said he did. He says he called them and they said they would support Maes getting out.
“There were two or three things I asked for,” Tancredo revealed.
“First thing it has to be made public.
“Number two, we must have some sort of veto power over who you pick to replace him. I don’t want to have just another liberal. He agreed, he did.
“We talked about who, and I came in with a name. I said Ted Harvey. That’s the guy I would pick. He said okay, I like that, I like that a lot.
“Dick said a very important big businessman had called him, he didn’t tell me who (it wasn’t real estate tycoon Dave Liniger) but he said he was fed up with all this crap going on and said he wanted to get in the race…
“So this was progressing over the weekend. Calls back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
“And one was, I just saw that Brown and Allard have endorsed Maes. Are you telling me they’d be willing to now say to him, get out?
“Maes called them and they had to (endorse him),” Dick said.
“The next day (Dick) called me and said he was going to be subdued. I totally understand that. What was he going to say, I’m the chairman of the party and I’m telling some guy to get out who has just won the election?
“What he said was, had there been any wiggle room, then the guys (Brown and Allard) would have intervened (with Maes) and said yeah, you should do this.”
Strogoff also lands some good researcher points on Tambor Williams, the unloved-on-the-right “establishment Republican” Dan Maes picked to run with him for lieutenant governor.
In keeping with the “real politics is a silly game” theme of the column, Strogoff reports that Williams switched parties for a year. She became a Democrat not out of conviction of any sort but because her partner at the time was running for sheriff as a Democrat. That tidbit is sure to further endear Williams to Maes’s tea party supporters.
Apologies to the Statesman for running such a long block quote here but it was so good I couldn’t imagine breaking it up!