When Tom Tancredo first entered the Colorado gubernatorial race, it was seen as a obstructive act of defiance. Early polls showed him in third place, far behind the front-runner, Democrat John Hickenlooper, and ruining any electoral chance for Republican nominee Dan Maes (whose dysfunctional candidacy is in part what spurred Tancredo’s run).
But since then, Maes’ campaign has crumbled even further, while Tancredo has been raising money, rising in the polls and gaining endorsements. In the process, he’s switched his focus from bashing Maes to attacking Hickenlooper. And though he still trails Hickenlooper by a bunch, the message is clear: Tancredo is playing to win.
The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Hickenlooper (46.1%) well ahead of Tancredo (34.7%) (Maes is it 14.5%), but Tancredo has been on the rise for weeks.
Tancredo has insisted all along that he believes he can win. And he’s been attracting support and endorsements from Republicans and even some Tea Partiers who previously supported Maes. So with nothing more to gain from hurting Maes, Tancredo is going after Hickenlooper.
After a debate in late September, where Tancredo and Maes traded barbs, Hickenlooper told the Colorado Springs Gazette that he “felt like a third wheel.” By last week, though, the Denver Post reported that Tancredo spent the last 45 seconds of his time at a debate attacking Hickenlooper on illegal immigration.
Tancredo’s campaign released an ad that stars Marten Kudlis, whose son was killed when an illegal immigrant crashed his car into a Baskin Robbins. Kudlis says “sanctuary city policies” allowed the man to remain in the country after prior arrests, and then accuses Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver, of supporting those policies. (Another Tancredo ad attacking Hickenlooper reuses footage from a Republican Governors Association ad from the primary — ironic considering Tancredo is now running as an American Constitution Party candidate.)
And this past weekend, the Denver Post reported that Tancredo was going as far as announcing a pair of a appointments he would make if he won the race — even though Hickenlooper still boasts a big lead in the polls and a huge war chest. Tancredo’s running to win, and he wants to make sure people know it.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com