Calling former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo “the de facto leader of the Colorado GOP,” a spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party on Wednesday expressed alarm at a poll showing Tancredo leading the GOP gubernatorial primary field by a wide margin.
Tancredo, who says he’s still considering whether to run for governor in next year’s election, scoffed at the attack — calling it “paranoid ramblings” — and suggested Democrats were miffed that the poll also showed him in a statistical dead heat with U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the leading Democratic candidates for governor in next year’s election.
Colorado Politics reported Wednesday that Tancredo had the support of 22.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters — far ahead of five other declared and potential GOP candidates, whose support ranged from 8.5 percent to 0.3 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based pollster who set up the polling and data operations for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. With eight months remaining until the primary, the poll, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.16 percent, showed 54.3 percent of respondents were undecided.
In a hypothetical contest with Polis, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, Tancredo trailed 25.3-24.7 — within the poll’s margin of error — while 47.2 percent of likely general election voters said they’re undecided.
“In both the general and primary, there are enough undecided voters for a disciplined candidate with well-organized campaign to mold a winning majority from the electorate. Tom Tancredo can be that candidate,” pollster Matt Braynard wrote in a polling memo, calling the controversial former five-term congressman and two-time candidate for governor “battle-tested.”
Eight Republicans and seven Democrats are running for the office held by term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper.
Citing Colorado Politics’ exclusive report on the gubernatorial poll, Colorado Democratic Party communications director Eric Walker invoked Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and the executive chairman of the aggressively conservative Breitbart News site.
“Tom Tancredo is a fitting candidate for the party of Trump and Bannon, offering right-wing rage in place of policy solutions,” Walker said. “As the de facto leader of the Colorado GOP, Tancredo is forcing the rest of the field to race to the right, imperiling any Republican candidate’s chances of capturing the governor’s mansion in next year’s general election.”
Tancredo, who writes a regular column for Breitbart, met with Bannon a month ago in Colorado Springs to discuss the state’s political landscape and a possible run for governor. The powwow took place as Bannon was ramping up what he’s called a “season of war” at the ballot box against the GOP establishment.
Long before Trump promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico, Tancredo made a reputation as a lightning rod for his hard-line positions on illegal immigration, which he’s called a battle for the future of Western civilization. Tancredo took it to the national stage when he mounted a run for the 2008 presidential nomination, he said, in order to make sure the issue was part of the political debate.
Walker painted a catastrophic picture of a Tancredo governorship.
“Make no mistake — a Tancredo administration would threaten everything we hold dear in Colorado: our booming economy, our public lands, our diversity, even our constitutional rights,” Walker said. “All Coloradans should be on high alert to ensure Tancredo does not Trumpify our great state.”
Tancredo had an amused but dismissive reaction to Walker’s statement.
“I noticed that the only thing they failed to mention in their paranoid ramblings was the fact that Jared Polis and I are tied in the race for governor,” he told Colorado Politics. “It must be especially galling to them considering the fact that he has already put hundreds of thousands of dollars into his race and I’m not even a candidate!”