Littwin on the Ted Nugent of Colorado politics

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he timing of the stories was entirely coincidental, and yet the timing could not have been more perfect.

Another poll bears more bad news for Colorado Democrats and, by extension, Gov. John Hickenlooper. And at the same time, Tom Tancredo, the Republican leader in the clubhouse to oppose Hickenlooper in the 2014 gubernatorial race, sends out a fundraising letter from … Ted Nugent.

The money quote from the Nugent letter: “…anybody that wants to disarm me can drop dead.”

Yes, drop dead. Just the kind of exchange you were hoping for from an, uh, intellectual ally of your would-be governor.

That’s not all the letter says, of course.

I particularly enjoy this line: “Well, I’m not just a rock star and bowhunting addict. I’m a gungho American first and a dedicated patriot fighting for liberty – just like you. And like you, I’m terrified by where Barack Obama and his radical America hating leftist goons are leading this great country. Aren’t you?”

[pullquote]It’s almost funny. It’s especially funny if you consider that Tancredo is the Ted Nugent of Colorado politics.[/pullquote]

Yes, Tancredo sends out a letter of endorsement from the “not just a rock star” who calls Obama’s supporters — which, by my count, would include more than half of Colorado voters in the last two presidential elections — “radical America hating leftist goons.”

It’s almost funny. It’s especially funny if you consider that Tancredo is the Ted Nugent of Colorado politics. This is Tancredo’s end-of-year call-out to the kinds of people — let’s call them “rightist goons,” just for the sake of symmetry — who send their hard-earned money to people like Tancredo. It’s a sad, paranoid group that thinks America — to quote Nugent — has turned into a “socialist utopia.”

And just last week, to show the Nugent letter was no aberration, Tancredo sent out a fundraising letter from none other than Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the infamous profiling birther whom the New York Times has called “America’s Worst Sheriff” and who has been blasted by the Goldwater Institute (yes, named for that Goldwater) for a variety of sins in a report called “Mission Unaccomplished.” Arpaio is the Nugent/Tancredo of Arizona law-enforcement abuse, and that’s the nicest way I can think to say it.

Here’s the thing: For the first time in his political career, Hickenlooper is in some trouble. Part of his problem is one that most Democrats are facing — the general backlash against the botched Obamacare rollout. Part of Hickenlooper’s problem is the backlash over the modest guns laws that have turned Colorado politics inside out. And particularly worrying for Hickenlooper is that there’s no easy path for him to win back his carefully modeled position as nonpartisan, business-focused centrist.

In the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Republicans hold a 47-42 lead over Democrats in a generic race for the Colorado legislature. Among independents, the lead is 41-30.

It looks like a difficult road, until you read the rest of the polling. When polling on the Republican governor’s race, PPP has Tancredo at 34 percent and Scott Gessler next at 15 percent. In other words, the impending disaster may be on the Republican side. Tancredo’s lead – even at this early point — is nothing but trouble for Republicans.

My guess is that Tancredo won’t win the nomination. It might be Gessler, who has name recognition and a strong record of playing partisan politics whenever possible. It might be Greg Brophy, who may have trouble raising money. It might be Mike Kopp, who may have trouble getting anyone to recognize him. But here is my guess: Whether or not Tancredo wins the nomination, he will take the Republican Party down with him, just as he did in 2010 when he got 37 percent of the vote running on the American Constitution Party ticket.

I get heat from the Tancredistas whenever I say that Tancredo can’t possibly win a statewide race. But I only say it because he can’t. He can’t win because — just for one example — he sends out Ted Nugent fundraising letters. You tell me how many actual governors do that. (I haven’t looked it up, but I’m guessing the over-under is near zero).

Tancredo got 37 percent of the vote last time — poor Dan Maes came in at 11 — despite the fact that Hickenlooper never said a negative word about him. Hickenlooper may take the high road again this time, but don’t count on Tancredo’s Republican buddies going the same way. Just watch as the social issues — immigration, abortion, gay marriage — play out and Republicans, who can’t help themselves, get played. Remember how that worked for Ken Buck, who’s running for Senate again? Here’s how National Journal’s Hotline sees Buck — “back for another try after bungling his way” to defeat in 2010.

Why can’t Tancredo win? It’s not just bungling for him. Let me remind those who may have forgotten which Tancredo we’re talking about. It’s the bomb-Mecca guy. The Sotomayor-is-a-racist guy. The Obama-is-a-dedicated-Marxist guy. The illegal-immigrants-want-to-kill-his-grandchildren guy. The Hickenlooper-is-an-accessory-to-murder guy. The Obama-is-a-greater-threat-than-al-Qaeda guy. The Miami-is-a-third-world-country guy. The reinstitute-literacy-tests guy. The Obama-should-be-impeached guy.

Sometimes I wonder what Tancredo is doing in this race, but then I remember. He’s the guy who loves the attention and — if you remember his brief presidential run — doesn’t really mind if he loses, just so long as he’s in the game. Yeah, that guy.


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