Tancredo ups the bounty in guv’s race

The Colorado Statesman

TV’s most recognizable bounty hunter helped Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo haul in some cash last week at an Aurora country western bar.

Days later, the conservative editorial board of one of the state’s largest newspapers called on two of Tancredo’s primary opponents to withdraw from the race “in the interest of stopping Tancredo.”

The Colorado Springs Gazette on Sunday urged former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler to clear the field for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez in order to prevent Tancredo from winning the nomination and, the editorial warned, drag down GOP candidates statewide.

While the Kopp and Gessler campaigns chugged ahead — ignoring The Gazette’s plea — a Tancredo spokesman said that the newspaper had it wrong and that Tancredo was the Republican with the best chance to boost GOP candidates in the fall election.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo greets Duane “Dog” Chapman and his wife, Beth, stars of CMT’s “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt,” at a fundraiser on May 16 at The Stampede in Aurora.

Kopp, Gessler, Tancredo and Beauprez are on the June 24 primary ballot for the chance to take on Gov. John Hickenlooper. The vote starts in just over a week, as mail ballots go out to all registered Republicans on June 2.

KNUS radio host Peter Boyles poses for a photograph with his girlfriend, Dena Pastorini, and reality TV’s bounty-hunting couple, Duane “Dog” and Beth Chapman at The Stampede in Aurora.

More than 100 donors and supporters showed up at The Stampede on Friday to meet Duane “Dog” Chapman and his wife, Beth, who headlined the reality TV series “Dog the Bounty Hunter” on A&E for eight seasons and are currently appearing on CMT’s “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt.” The line to speak with Tancredo, however, was at least as long as the line for photos with the TV stars.

“Mr. Tom Tancredo has our votes,” says Duane “Dog” Chapman alongside his wife, Beth, at a fundraiser for Tancredo’s gubernatorial campaign on May 16 at The Stampede in Aurora.

“As Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf used to say, ‘When in charge, take charge,’” said Chapman, sporting his trademark blonde mullet and sunglasses. Pointing to Tancredo, he added, “This is a take-charge guy.”

Reality TV star Beth Chapman talks with Jackie Tancredo at a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo on May 16 at The Stampede in Aurora.

“Colorado needs some change in a really big way,” said Beth Chapman. “We need to start changing our Legislature and our leaders one guy at a time. We’re here to support Tom — he’s a good friend of ours and has supported us through thick and thin.”

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo hugs Crystal Frasier and Scott Shires at a fundraiser for his campaign on May 16.
Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

A stalwart Tancredo supporter said she was thrilled to meet the Chapmans but that they weren’t what drew her out on a Friday evening.

“I think everything Tom stands for is on the mark,” said Crystal Frasier. “He stands for integrity.”

The Centennial resident noted that she’s been voting for Tancredo since he first ran for Congress and is looking forward to voting for him in next month’s primary and again in the November election. “Everything he stands for, I’m behind,” she said. “He’s been so consistent throughout his political career.” (Frasier, who raises service dogs for disabled children, made an impression on the night’s celebrities — after meeting her dog Ben and seeing how well he interacted with the boisterous crowd, Chapman asked her to train a service dog for his nephew.)

Another Republican voter said he came to the fundraiser to help decide which candidate to support after his preferred candidate, state Sen. Greg Brophy, failed to make the primary ballot.

“I heard that Dog and Beth were here, so I thought I might come out,” said Andrew Lucas, who noted that he voted for Tancredo four years ago when he ran for governor on the American Constitution Party ticket. Lucas said he was wavering between Tancredo and Kopp and would base his decision on which candidate sounded better on the rights of gun owners.

“I hope we can get a candidate in the Republican Party this election who takes the 2nd Amendment seriously and will protect our right to bear arms and will repeal the magazine ban and those other gun control (measures) they passed,” Lucas said, referring to controversial gun-control laws passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature in last year’s session. “The 2nd Amendment is the hot issue right now,” he said, adding that he’s also concerned about education, oil and gas production, and immigration.

According to The Gazette, it’s that last issue — and Tancredo’s headline-grabbing stance on illegal immigration — that threatens Colorado Republicans if the former five-term congressman and one-time presidential candidate wins the GOP nod.

“Tancredo’s base consists of one-issue voters who cling to the candidate’s over-zealous obsession with immigration — an issue barely relevant to the governor’s job,” The Gazette editorial says. “If one thing can be certain in Colorado’s volatile political landscape, it is this: Tancredo cannot win statewide office.”

While Tancredo — by several measures the front-runner in the primary field — has a good chance of emerging victorious if the other candidates split the rest of the vote, The Gazette opined, it’s impossible for him to beat Hickenlooper in the fall. “Not in a state where races are won in the middle, mostly by appealing to moderate independents, Hispanics and suburban women,” the editorial says.

A Tancredo win in the primary, The Gazette warns, could “poison the entire ticket for the GOP,” drawing Democrats and unaffiliated voters to the polls to register protest votes. “While voting against Tancredo, they’ll vote against other Republicans. Forget winning the Senate race.”

“We believe Tom is the best candidate to help the party beat Hickenlooper, because he has the most support from independents,” Tancredo campaign manager Brian Dotterer told The Colorado Statesman, pointing to the results of numerous polls conducted over the last year.

As for the newspaper’s contention that Tancredo will harm other GOP candidates — including U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner — Dotterer said that conclusion was equally wrong.

“We are on good terms with the other statewide and federal level candidates, and we look forward to working with them over the next five months to present a united slate of candidates in Colorado,” Dotterer said.

“There’s no doubt that the establishment party bosses oppose Tom,” Dotterer added. “He’s a true limited-government conservative who will reduce spending and reduce the size of government, and that threatens the big-government ways of liberals in both parties.”

The Gazette editorial had created some chatter, Dotterer said with a chuckle, but he didn’t see any signs of an Anybody But Tancredo movement emerging outside the most rarified levels of the GOP establishment.

“We know that Tom is the conservative reformer who has fought liberals in both parties,” he said. “Anyone who believes Republicans are going to win by tacking to the political center — Tom is not their guy. Those establishment guys are seeking to perpetuate their failed, big-government ways, and Tom will actually reduce the size of government.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com