Tancredo reaffirms that he’s ready to fight

The Colorado Statesman

If former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo wins the governorship, he intends to put Colorado at the center of a debate over sovereignty of states in the face of “over-reaching federal power,” the Republican candidate said this week.

“We are going to have to establish the whole idea of state’s rights, of the 10th Amendment,” Tancredo said at a meeting of the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on Monday in Wheat Ridge. “The fight is going to have to start somewhere. Let it be here, I firmly believe, because I am willing to do it. Not only willing, I am looking forward to it.”

The standoff in Nevada between the Bureau of Land Management and cattle rancher Cliven Bundy — the feds charge he owes years of unpaid grazing fees — is “a flashpoint” in the debate over state sovereignty, Tancredo said.

Although many of Bundy’s supporters distanced themselves from the rancher after his remarks about “the Negro” and slavery became public, Tancredo said the dispute raises important questions for governors about the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers to the states unless specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a candidate in the GOP gubernatorial primary, tells the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club how he came to launch a nearly four-decade political career while teaching civics at Drake Junior High School in the 1970s. Tancredo said he told his class he’d run for office if they all got involved with an issue or campaign and the students obliged. Standing under a sign highlighting Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still and know that I am God,” Tancredo made his remarks to the Jeffco group on April 28 in Wheat Ridge.

If the feds try something similar in Colorado when he’s governor, Tancredo continued, “We will have one hell of a battle about that and I will use every single lever at my disposal to stop that.”

Senate District 19 candidate Laura Woods and El Paso County Republican Conservative Men’s Club member David Nelson talk politics at a meeting of the Jefferson County GOP Men’s Club.

Tancredo is one of four Republicans on the June 24 primary ballot, along with former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. The winner of that election will face Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking a second term.

Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club organizer Fred Holden and and Jeffco sheriff candidate Jim Shires visit at the conclusion of a weekly meeting of the club on April 28.

Tancredo also told the group of roughly 75 Republicans he believes President Barack Obama is the biggest “threat” to the country and ought to be impeached by Congress, even if the move isn’t likely to succeed.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo tells the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on April 28 that he has a base of support as “solid as the Rock of Gibraltar” and is looking forward to running against Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“We have a guy in the White House that I believe, and have seen it on many occasions, is the most dangerous thing — he’s more dangerous than any other threat we face as a nation,” Tancredo said. “Barack Obama, I believe, is dedicated to destroying the America that I love.”

Former state Rep. John McElderry, R-Lakewood, asks gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo how he can win a four-way primary during a meeting of the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on April 28 in Wheat Ridge as past legislative candidate Rick Enstrom listens. McElderry served in the state House with Tancredo in the 1970s and both were tapped by the incoming Reagan administration as regional chiefs of federal departments — Tancredo at the Department of Education and McElderry at the Department of Health and Human Service.
Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Contending that Obama has “methodically shredded the Constitution,” Tancredo continued, “He should have been impeached. He should have been impeached many times.”

Tancredo said that members of the House of Representatives ought to introduce Bills of Impeachment, even if it wasn’t probable that the Senate would convict the president, because, he said, it’s important to list the complaints against Obama. Tancredo ticked off several potential charges, including the so-called Fast and Furious scandal, the White House’s reaction to an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Obama’s use of executive orders to enact policy. He called it “dangerous” to avoid initiating impeachment because that might give the next president “carte blanche” to run wild.

“If you don’t do something about it, it’s a horrible precedent for the next dictator-in-chief,” Tancredo said.

Recounting his political career — including a stint in the state Legislature, working for the Reagan administration, five terms in Congress, a run for president and a third-party bid for governor four years ago — Tancredo said he hadn’t ever felt so compelled to run for office as he does this time.

“All this time, in Congress and everything I’ve done, I’ve never felt my home state was at risk,” he said. “I don’t even feel comfortable in my own state anymore, it has gone so far to the left. It’s a strange place in many ways. It’s not what I love, it’s not what I remember, it’s a different environment and I don’t like it. And, so,” he added, “I am going to try to do something about it. And when I try to do something about it, that usually means I run for an office, so here we are.”

According to a handful of recent public opinion surveys of the governor’s race, Tancredo — who also polls highest in name recognition by most measures — runs closest to Hickenlooper, although none of the Republican candidates have come out on top in any of the publicly released polls.

If he wins the nomination to take on Hickenlooper, Tancredo told the Republicans, the incumbent will have a fight on his hands. “The one thing I am sure about him is he has a glass jaw,” Tancredo said. “If I am the nominee,” he continued, “I can guarantee you this — I can’t guarantee an outcome, but I can guarantee you this — we’re going to take a swing at his jaw more than once. And I think it’s going to be fun.”

First he has to make it out of the primary, but Tancredo said that should be the easy part.

“We have a solid base and I think it will stay there, and, if it does, we should win the primary,” he said. Elaborating later, Tancredo said the campaign has been polling likely Republican voters — defined as those who have voted in the last two GOP primaries — every month this year and that they “have been really encouraged by what we have found. I have a base, I have a base of support. It is solid as the Rock of Gibraltar — it does not move.”

According to the Tancredo campaign’s most recent internal polling, Tancredo said, he polled at about 40 percent support, followed by Gessler at roughly 25 percent, Beauprez at 20 percent and Kopp at 15 percent. The survey, Tancredo and campaign staffers said, shows his support has held steadily at about the same level it’s been all year, regardless of the other candidates in the race or on the ballot.

The only poll that has been publicly released shows a much closer race, although it was conducted a month before the ballot was set and used different criteria to determine likelihood of voting in the primary. A Public Policy Polling survey released two months ago had Tancredo leading with 24 percent, followed by Beauprez at 20 percent and Gessler at 18 percent. Kopp -- who surprised pundits by winning top line at the Republican State Assembly last month — polled at 8 percent, ahead of three other candidates who didn’t make the ballot. (The survey took place March 13-16 and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 6.1 percent.)

While spokesmen for the Beauprez and Kopp campaigns declined to comment on their own internal polling, the figures Tancredo provided were “close to stuff we’ve seen,” said a top Gessler staffer.
“It’s clear that if Republicans don’t want Tom Tancredo to be their nominee,” said Gessler campaign chief Rory McShane, “that Scott Gessler is their choice.”

Anticipating those kind of objections to his candidacy — that he’s been too outspoken or stepped into too many controversies in his lengthy political career — Tancredo told the Jeffco Republicans, “Our task is to make sure people understand indeed I can be elected.”

Noting that he ran ahead of Hickenlooper among unaffiliated voters by a wider margin than any of the other GOP candidates in one recent poll, Tancredo said that shows he can win the general election by sticking to his guns. Perhaps he polls well with Independents, he cracked, “because I’m the anti-Republican Republican.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com