The Denver chapter of Liberty on the Rocks hosted former congressman and erstwhile Republican Tom Tancredo on Wednesday evening, where the newly minted Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate broke down the steps of his journey from party player to outsider and, finally, third-party candidate. It was not long ago that Tancredo backed party-establishment candidate Josh Penry for the job, who dropped out and now runs U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton’s campaign. Tancredo helped to craft Scott McInnis’ platform once Penry dropped out. Tancredo’s flight to a third party follows a failed “ultimatum” to the remaining Republican candidates.
In a projected three-way gubernatorial race pitting Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D), Tancredo, and the winner of the McInnis/Maes GOP primary, Tancredo musters only 24% of the vote, according to Rasmussen. To say the least, GOP elected officials expressed disappointment and exasperation, as the unique chance to wrest the governor’s seat from Democratic control — the incumbent, Gov. Bill Ritter, decided not to run for reelection in January — slowly appeared to be slipping away.
GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams exchanged rhetorical barbs with Tancredo on the radio last week, while Colorado’s strong Tea Party movement denounced the political move as an act of betrayal. Leaders within that movement have criticized extensively Tancredo’s voting record while he served in Congress.
Tancredo himself had urged Tea Party activists to eschew the false allure of a third party and work for principles within the GOP in a letter written in December 2009.