It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Republican candidates in Colorado. As ballots are cast in advance of the August 10 GOP Senate primary, candidates Jane Norton and Ken Buck are squabbling over gender and footwear, and Buck, whose surge in the race was fueled partly by Tea Party support, has been dogged by a verbal swipe at movement members caught on video by a Democratic staffer. The duo vying for the party’s gubernatorial nod aren’t faring much better. The front-runner, Scott McInnis, is fighting to stay in the race after the Denver Post revealed several instances of plagiarism, and his opponent, Dan Maes, agreed to pay a fine earlier this month to end an investigation into alleged campaign-finance infractions.
Into this storm leaps Tom Tancredo, the Republican congressman and presidential candidate. A nativist who has called for Barack Obama’s impeachment, suggested illegal immigrants are “coming here to kill you” and dubbed Miami a “Third World Country,” Tancredo announced on Monday that he would mount a gubernatorial bid under the banner of the American Constitution Party. Colorado conservatives met the decision with unbridled scorn. A Tea Party leader said Tancredo was making “a mockery out of himself and the entire election process,” while the state’s GOP chairman, Dick Wadhams, blasted Tancredo’s “unquenchable thirst for national media attention” and cautioned that his candidacy would torpedo Republican chances to recapture the statehouse. Others have suggested his tendency to wander beyond the right-wing’s fringe could hamper Republicans in down-ticket races.
Tancredo’s candidacy is not unexpected. He had previously warned of his intention to enter the race if polls showed McInnis and Maes trailing the Democratic front-runner, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. This time around, the five-term rep’s penchant for incendiary rhetoric seems to be wearing thin; last week FOX News’ Megyn Kelly took a break from pumping the New Black Panthers saga to tell Tancredo it was “hard to take him seriously.” On Monday, Tancredo and Wadhams sparred during a joint appearance on a local radio program. When the controversial politician said he was only doing “what’s necessary for the conservatives in this state,” Wadhams shot back: “What’s your agenda? What are you going to talk about? Impeach Obama and bomb Mecca?” It’s not the sort of message that will help Republicans in a pivotal battleground state.