The big Tom Tancredo news can be summed up in just a few words.
Republicans are thrilled. Democrats are bummed. Columnists are devastated (particularly this one).
Oh, and there’s this: Tancredo has officially become the last person in Colorado, with the possible exception of Peter Boyles, to realize that Tancredo had absolutely no chance of ever becoming governor. This was his third time running and the third time he had no chance. But give him credit, it took him less than three months to figure it out this time.
Actually, to be fair, I’m pretty sure Tancredo has always understood this. He didn’t run for president to be president and he hasn’t run for governor to be governor.
He runs because he’s Tom Tancredo, the carnival barker who is convinced that America and Colorado need to hear his message. I have always thought the message was crazy, but then Donald Trump became president and Steve Bannon became a media/political sensation and who am I to say what’s crazy any more?
And yet, why did Tancredo decide to run this time? This is what he said, and I’m not exaggerating: He was moved to get into the race, he insisted, because none of the GOP candidates was sufficiently offended that Colorado Springs wouldn’t guarantee security if VDARE — the white-nationalist group of which Tancredo was once a board member — came to town.
Seriously. For any other candidate, you’d think that defending VDARE might be disqualifying in and of itself, but this is 2018, and, as you might have noticed, it was the very-fine-people-on-both-sides guy who was on TV last night giving the State of the Union speech.
I’m sure that Trump’s ascension gave Tancredo hope that this year could be different for him. It was Tancredo, you’ll recall, who liked to say that John Hickenlooper was basically an accomplice to murder for Denver’s so-called sanctuary-city policies. And now it’s a recent Trump campaign ad that said if Democrats shut down the government over “amnesty,” they would be “complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”
No wonder Tancredo thought it was his time. If you want to talk MS-13, he’s your guy. If you want someone to say that Mexican immigrants are after you and your grandchildren, look no further. And here’s what scared the hell out of the Republican establishment: Given the crowded field and given Tancredo’s solid base, he might well have won the GOP nomination, meaning Republicans would be all but certain to lose in Colorado again.
Tancredo admitted as much when he announced his decision, once again shaking up what is turning into a very bizarre governor’s race, dominated by those who dropped out (see: Perlmutter, Ed; Brauchler, George and now Tancredo) and those who never dropped in (Salazar, Ken; Coffman, Mike). Tancredo had raised little money to this point, which suggested to him that he couldn’t beat the Democratic nominee in November, particularly if the Democrat is self-funding Jared Polis.
After all, he said, he needed a big chunk of change to take on the Democrats, the Republican establishment and, of course, the media all at once. So once again, Tancredo would do his best to save the Republican Party. Once it was by, um, running on the Constitution Party ticket (if you don’t remember, try the Google; it’s worth the effort) and this time by dropping out of the race altogether.
In an interview with 9News, Tancredo also took another shot at self-awareness. If his fundraising wasn’t going well, he sort of said, it could be that it was because Colorado Republicans just aren’t that into him anymore. Certainly Coloradans aren’t that into Trump, with the latest Gallup poll showing Trump running a 37-58 approval deficit in our state.
As we’ve mentioned before, Republicans have won only one top-of-the-ticket race in Colorado since Ken Salazar started the Democratic streak in 2006. Part of the reason for that is Republicans have consistently nominated terrible candidates, meaning, I don’t know, Darryl Glenn, Dan Maes. There are others. Part of the reason Republicans have consistently nominated terrible candidates is that they haven’t had many good ones to choose from.
So where does that leave them now?
Establishment favorite Walker Stapleton has a huge lead in the money race, most of it Superpac money. Romney nephew Doug Robinson — Stapleton is the Bush cousin — hasn’t set the funding world on fire. And neither has Cynthia Coffman, who, if she doesn’t start energizing her campaign, risks being the next major dropout story. Victor Mitchell gave his campaign $3 million. Am I forgetting anyone? Yes, there are others, and maybe one of them will go to the GOP convention and turn the race upside down again.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Polis has his own money, Mike Johnston and Cary Kennedy have gotten good early fundraising numbers, Donna Lynne started late and Noel Ginsburg has to convince voters that a moderate businessman is the way for Democrats to go in 2018.
Sure, it’s still a crowded race on both sides, but, with Tancredo gone, the field just lost about half its charisma and maybe three-fourths of its crazy. And, on a personal note, with the race still in its early stages, I just lost about half my material.
My regret is that I didn’t get the chance to talk to Tancredo before he dropped the big one (not on Mecca, thankfully). I would have advised him to look straight into the cameras and deliver the oh-so-obvious closing line: You won’t have Tom Tancredo to kick around any more.