As if to prove that desperate times do, in fact, call for desperate measures, I bring you the latest in desperate-sounding Colorado political news in the time of Donald Trump.
First, in the shocking-if-it-were-actually-true news, Axios’ Mike Allen is reporting that John Hickenlooper is considering maybe possibly running with John Kasich on a presidential unity ticket in 2020. As you know, the two moderate governors — OK, “moderate” may be a stretch for Kasich, particularly on women’s reproductive rights — have been on tour together and are set to announce a detailed bipartisan healthcare-fix alternative that could have the support of as many as 11 governors.
If they were to actually pull this off, and their healthcare alternative were to gain some traction with (in descending order of likelihood) the media, the public, the Congress, the president, it could actually put them in that sweet third-way spot that could lead to, well, something.
Kasich, who would apparently top the ticket in this scenario, and Hick are talking about moving next from healthcare to immigration and jobs. And if they could fashion solutions for all three, they might as well skip the White House and head straight to the Vatican.
Could this happen?
I’d have to say it’s about as likely as Donald Trump getting elected … Oh, wait. It turns out Trump was elected president. Which means, we shouldn’t discount anything, although it seems to me that the publicity generated here would more likely fuel a Kasich primary run against Trump in 2020 and put Hick either in the Democratic mix for president (which he can’t win) or in the 2020 Senate race against Cory Gardner (which he could). Whatever else happens, Hickenlooper, finally term limited as governor, seems certain to be running for something.
And the idea of a unity ticket to counter the deep Washington dysfunction is a sure attention magnet for, you know, the shows. We should get some idea of how real the Kasich-Hickenlooper tag team is by how angry Democrats become. If there were a viable third party, that would have to help no one more than Trump, who could conceivably win re-election simply by holding on to this base.
Speaking of which.
Not to be outdone, our old friend Tom Tancredo, who has twice run for governor and who has twice lost in races Hickenlooper won, is threatening to run for governor again. I’ve checked with the experts and apparently Tancredo’s threat is perfectly legal and not, to my surprise, a possible hate crime.
The reason Tancredo says he wants to run for governor this time — in 2010, it was to save the Republican Party by running as a third-party candidate and in 2014 it was, well, I have no idea why — is that Colorado Republican leaders are unwilling to stand up for the rights of white-nationalist fringe groups.
No, seriously. Tancredo was an invited speaker — of course, he was — at a VDARE conference scheduled for next April at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. VDARE is a white-nationalist organization (according to The Southern Poverty Law Center and nearly everyone else) that was involved, at least tangentially, in the neo-Nazi, KKK rally in Charlottesville. A writer for VDARE.com was one of the Charlottesville organizers.
Pressured by left-wing activists — presumably like Colorado Springs’ Republican Mayor John Suthers who had said the city wouldn’t provide security for the event — the resort canceled the reservation and most people, fearing another Charlottesville, were relieved.
Tancredo was not. He told Colorado Politics that the GOP silence on the topic was “infuriating” and “appalling,” which sounds very much like something Tancredo would say, and that he wouldn’t have to be pushed very hard to stick it to the already-crowded-and-still-growing Republican governor’s field by tossing his Make America Hate Again hat into the ring.
You can see why Tancredo would be tempted. He must be thinking, what the hell, Trump’s election was a sure sign that the crazy in politics is ascendant and particularly that part shared by Trump and Tancredo (anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-Republican establishment, anti-media, pro-wall, pro-white-nationalist-leaning fringe groups, etc., etc.) As far as I can tell, the main difference between Trump the demagogue and Tancredo the carnival barker is that Saudi-loving Trump has never once suggested we bomb Mecca.
The strange thing about the VDARE issue is that Tancredo is not entirely wrong. There is a free-speech component to this argument, or would be if Colorado Springs had denied VDARE a permit. But no permit was requested. And I’m guessing that Suthers, who said the city wouldn’t get involved in security if VDARE came to the Springs, was actually bluffing. Or do you think he’d stand by if there was a Charlottesville situation? And, of course, free speech means we’re all welcome to suggest VDARE do its hate thing somewhere else.
Here’s what Tancredo told The Denver Post when saying he was considering running: “Not one Republican in this state, no one elected or running for office, has the guts to say, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Whatever happened with the First Amendment? Have we totally annihilated it in our rush to appease the left?”
What ties together the Hickenlooper maybe-news and the Tancredo maybe-news is the definite presence of maybe-not-all-there Donald Trump, who, we’ll recall, said there were some “very fine people” on the alt-right side in Charlottesville who were defending, presumably, “our” culture. Trump’s approval numbers seem to be sinking daily — Gallup had him at 34 at last count — and the Democrats have been struggling to figure out how to best take advantage.
At the same time, Trump is slamming the even-less-popular Republican Congress, his latest twitter target. And now, together, or maybe not together, Trump and McConnell and Ryan are facing the possibility of a government shutdown and/or a default on the nation’s debt next month. If you’ve got your Trump crisis calendar handy, September looks busy.
In other words, the timing for Kasich-looper, no matter how much of a longshot, looks pretty good, particularly if the health-care plan proves semi-workable. Of course, there have been very few days over the last seven months that haven’t looked pretty good for someone to be opposing Trump. And the only certainty is that there will be many, many, many, many more of those days still to come.