Tom Tancredo: Can a Hardcore Conservative Still Win in Colorado?

While on a conservative talk radio show Thursday morning, former Representative Tom Tancredo announced his candidacy for the governor’s race in Colorado. This is his second attempt to seek the state’s top position, as he ran unsuccessfully as the Constitution Party’s nominee in 2010. While his popularity surged close to the election that year, he ultimately lost the race to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Tom Tancredo and John Hickenlooper’s paths crossed again this week, as Tancredo claimed his motivation to run in the gubernatorial race was sparked by Hickenlooper’s controversial decision this week surrounding death-row inmate Nathan Dunlop. In 1993 Dunlop killed four people at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora, Colo., and his execution was scheduled for August. While faced with the decision to grant him clemency or continue with his scheduled execution, Hickenlooper opted for a temporary reprieve. Tancredo and other Republicans reprimanded Hickenlooper for his decision. 

After serving in the House of Representatives for a decade, the Tea Partier Tancredo left congress in 2009 after a failed attempt to suspend all legal immigration until the population of undocumented immigrants decreased, and a failure to implement English as the official national language. Immigration was a central issue for Tancredo during his failed 2008 presidential campaign, and he has stated that Mitt Romney’s failure to gain Latino support was a downfall of his presidential campaign. According to some political analysts, Tancredo hopes to garner the support of Latinos in his upcoming campaign. If successful in gaining their support, he could gain up to 20% of the votes in Colorado.

Regarding the future of the United States, Tancredo believes “massive immigration and radical multiculturalism, is a prescription for our own demise.” Aside from his clear opposition to immigration, he favors the legalization of marijuana, is pro-life, and opposes gay marriage.

As Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution has pointed out, Colorado’s population has risen dramatically creating large urban and suburban communities that are “increasingly voting Democratic.” Tancredo needs to assess if his far right-wing ideology will even be welcome come 2014 in Colorado.

He once commented that Obama won his presidency because of, “people who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English”. If this is what he truly believes, then he may as well cede his spot in the race, because Colorado’s foreign-born population has dramatically been on the rise since 2000, and will most likely help carry the 2014 candidate to victory. Immigration is a central issue to Hispanics, as 2012 election polls indicated, and 77% of the group believes undocumented workers should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

Tancredo is up against the likes of current Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and State Sen. Greg Brophy. If he doesn’t begin to tailor his central issues, such as illegal immigration, towards Colorado’s changing demographics, this governor’s race will not be nearly as close as the last. 

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Laura Gillen

Background in international development and women's empowerment. Avid tennis player, runner, sailor, and yogi. D.C. based.

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