LOVELAND– In a gubernatorial debate held here Friday by the Northeastern Colorado group Progressive 15, American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo backed away from his earlier support of the “Bad Three” anti-tax ballot initiatives pushed by anti-government crusader Doug Bruce and heavily backed among the state’s tea party voters.
Tancredo said he understood why the three proposals landed on the ballot and that he continues to support them conceptually. “We need to reduce the size and complexity of government,” he said. In the days since he originally came out in favor of the proposals– Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101– Tancredo explained, he has been studying the initiatives more closely.
“There are certain aspects I’m concerned about. I don’t know if I will support them or not,” he told the crowd in Loveland.
He added, however, that whomever is elected governor would “need to govern as if the initiatives] had passed, because there is no silver bullet to get us out of our [budget] problems.”
Republican candidate Dan Maes and Democrat John Hickenlooper reiterated their previous positions on the measures. Maes supports Amendment 60. Hickenlooper opposes all three initiatives. The initiatives are opposed by good government groups as well as the business community and the vast majority of Colorado lawmakers on all sides of the political spectrum. Proposition 101 cuts taxes, including income-tax rates. Amendment 60 slashes school mill levies. Amendment 61 outlaws state borrowing and would effectively end the state’s ability to fund construction.
In an interview with the Colorado Independent last December, Gov. Bill Ritter called the proposals “anti-society initiatives” and agreed with analysts that the proposals would gut state revenue to the extent that fundamental things we have come to expect of government “would just have to fall away.”
In Loveland, a typically pugnacious Tancredo took shots at Maes and Hickenlooper. He joked that the state could put all its land in a conservation trust and use the money to balance the budget.
Responding to comments from Maes that Tancredo should have been excluded from the debate because the American Constitution Party pulls less than 1 percent of voters, former Republican Congressman Tancredo noted that maybe Maes is the real third party candidate.
Tancredo said Maes was the one whose own party was working to get him to leave the race.
“He can’t raise any money except to pay his own gas reimbursements and fines,” said Tancredo, mocking Maes, a political novice, for again wracking up campaign finance violation fees. Maes has attracted attention in part for the anemic sums he has raised as a major party candidate and for clear financial mismanagement. He was recently charged a $3000 fine. It is his second campaign finance violation. The first fine concerned money Maes paid himself for travel that was sloppily recorded and that at best seemed fudged. Many believe a new complaint is likely to arrive any day concerning a high-profile alleged cash donation of $300 Maes accepted from longtime state conservative political figure Freda Poundstone. She said she gave the cash to Maes to help pay his mortgage. He says it was a campaign donation. His campaign filings however do not list the contribution.