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Tancredo: Hypocrisy and Defeat   July 27th, 2010
Thank Tancredo for Democrat control of redistricting       

 
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I'm very disappointed in Tom Tancredo.

On July 22nd, Tancredo issued an ultimatum to the two Republican primary candidates for Colorado governor to either commit to withdrawing their candidacy after one of them wins the Republican primary or he would leave the Republican Party, join the American Constitution Party, and run as their candidate for governor. Predictably, neither Republican candidate took Tancredo up on his "offer" and he announced on July 26th that he was becoming a member of the ACP and would be their candidate for governor, thereby creating a 3-way race between a Democrat, a Republican, and Tancredo.

By pretty much every estimate, this moves the governor's race from "difficult" to essentially "impossible" for conservatives in Colorado.

Tancredo's alleged thinking is that neither Republican candidate (Scott McInnis nor Dan Maes) can win the general election against Democrat John Hickenlooper, current mayor of Denver. The prevailing understanding is that by issuing the ultimatum he was hoping that both candidates would tremble under the threat of running against him, would commit to withdrawing, and the GOP state vacancy committee could appoint a "viable" candidate that could win in November.

Now from this point on I must say that I had an entirely different article written. Then I heard Tancredo with GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams on the Peter Boyle show on July 26th during the 8am hour. That completely changed my perspective on the situation.

I was going to proffer the possibility that Tancredo's move was a convoluted and risky effort to drive conservative turnout which, although sabotaging the governor's race, might help down-ballot efforts to elect conservatives. But after hearing the above mentioned radio show, it appears to me that Tancredo believes he can actually win in a 3-way race.

I believe this is delusional because Tancredo has never been a viable statewide candidate.

Ever since he was in Congress he's been perceived as a single-issue candidate: Illegal immigration. Whether that's the truth or not, he hasn't made a significant effort to dispel that perception. As a representative from a safe congressional district--and on occasions since then--Tancredo has said things that may appeal to some, but that will not play well with the broader voter base that is required to win a statewide race.

Additionally, Tancredo is a lightning rod that attracts the full wrath of the left; his participation in the race will no doubt bring many, many leftist dollars to Colorado to work hard to get Hickenlooper elected. And if I had to hazard a guess, this will very likely become a referendum on Arizona's illegal immigration law, Tancredo will lose, and leftists will trumpet that as some kind of rejection of the Arizona law.

Tancredo's perceived single-issue focus on illegal immigration is why he's always been so beloved by talk show host Peter Boyle and why, I suspect, the exchange Monday morning between Chairman Wadhams and Tancredo was so brutal.

A Revealing Conversation

The Monday morning conversation on the radio show was either worrisome or revealing depending on who you believe. It was revealing if you believe Chairman Wadhams and worrisome if you believe Peter Boyle and Tom Tancredo.

Peter Boyle is a cynical non-Republican/non-Democrat talk show host in Denver who is essentially single-issue: Illegal immigration, though he did take some time off from that issue to focus on Obama's birth certificate. He's said some amazingly absurd things, such as last year when he suggested that swine flu was another example of why we should close our borders--I wrote about that silly argument last year. Now that swine flu has fizzled out it would appear Boyle's illegal immigrant hysterics on that matter were, as I said at the time, completely wrong. But, to him, everything is about illegal immigrants.

After spending the better part of 10 minutes supporting Tancredo against Wadhams in the conversation, host Peter Boyle said regarding the exchange at 18:25 that "No, it's not 2 against 1, I'm brokering it" and then went on to further support Tancredo. It was two against one and if Boyle thinks he was being an honest broker or moderator in that conversation, he has an interesting perspective on what it means to be honest.

The basic accusation made by Tancredo and Boyle was that Chairman Wadhams privately expressed that it was a "great idea" for Tancredo to get into the race as a minor party candidate, and that he said certain insulting things about the two Republican primary candidates, and was interested in conspiring in getting rid of them.

The Truth?

Who is telling the truth? I've only exchanged a few words with Tancredo and even fewer with Wadhams, and never spoken to Boyle. So I don't know any of them personally and certainly wasn't present for any of the alleged conversations.

But I do know that Peter Boyle has always been cynical and is decidedly hostile towards Republicans and has bemoaned the lack of other alternatives. I used to listen to his show regularly on the way to work, but after too many cases of him saying outlandish things (like the swine flu accusation above), spending too much time on illegal immigration and Obama's birth certificate, now I usually just start the day with some music. Suffice it to say that I do not trust Peter Boyle.

I do know that Tancredo last year told conservative groups that it was important to work within the Republican Party and not splinter off into minor parties that would only cause leftists to be elected. I do know that Tancredo has now done exactly that, much to the dismay of the same groups he lectured before (and that he now seems to mock for following his advice). I do know that he is willing to share publicly conversations that allegedly occurred privately--which is either a fabrication, or a breach of trust. I do know he's willing to pledge to only serve three terms and then stay for five (until he ran for president). And I know that he worked with Scott McInnis and Josh Penry on a platform that McInnis accepted to stave off Tancredo's entry into the race. Although Tancredo recognizes that McInnis has upheld his side of the bargain, Tancredo has not.

And I do know that Dick Wadhams is experienced in politics. As such, would he share certain private opinions with a former Republican congressman? Perhaps. Would he be loose-lipped with those same opinions with a cynical radio host such as Peter Boyle who has a history of being public hostility towards the Republican party? That seems far less likely to me.

But even if Tancredo/Boyle are telling the truth, the fact of the matter is that Wadhams isn't the one that left the Republican Party to run as a minor party candidate. The issue here isn't Wadhams, the issue is Tancredo and the impact on the November election. It'd be unfortunate if Tancredo's accusations are true, but it isn't material to how the November elections will play out.

The Math Behind Hickenlooper's Win

Although Tancredo/Boyle seem to think it's a given that neither Republican candidate for governor can win, it's much less likely that Tancredo can win. Tancredo himself said at 22:27 that "it would've been tough" for him to beat Hickenlooper in a head to head match, but he thinks he has a better chance of winning in a 3-way race than McInnis or Maes have in a 2-way race.

That seems like a fundamentally flawed analysis.

In a recent poll (after the problematic news of the last few weeks), both Republican candidates were still within two or three points of Hickenlooper--and a strong campaign against Hickenlooper has yet to even begin. Hickenlooper either got 45% or 46% against McInnis and Maes respectively, who both got 43%. That's far from an unwinnable race.

It seems unlikely that Tancredo is going to draw much--if any--interest from Hickenlooper supporters. That means that Hickenlooper would currently win probably no less than 45%. To win, Tancredo would have to obtain at least 46% which would mean the Republican candidate would have to win 9% or less. That seems extremely unlikely. Even if McInnis or Maes supporters are the only ones that vote for the respective Republican nominee, I'm quite certain that would amount to more than 9%... which would guarantee a Democratic victory.

The flaw in Tancredo's reasoning is that he sees a McInnis or Maes victory as impossible while the math suggests the possibility of a Tancredo win is far more remote.

A Vote for Tancredo is a Vote for Hickenlooper

As Tancredo himself correctly lectured "liberty groups" last December, the fight for conservatism must occur within the Republican Party. If the fight is waged with minor parties in general elections, it will split the conservative vote and result in a win for the Democrats. That's how Clinton got elected in 1992.

Tancredo is now hypocritically contradicting his own advice from just seven months ago and the result will, as he said, be the election of a leftist. And he is now mocking the same groups he lectured for, well, listening to him and following his advice.

There are those that claim that this is an example of "principle over party" (a phrase that is worded to imply a mutual exclusivity that does not exist). But a "principled" vote for Tancredo will be just as effective at electing Hickenlooper as a vote for Hickenlooper. And while some may claim that theirs is a "principled" vote so they can have a clear conscience, I see no honor nor principle in electing Democrats unless you're a Democrat. If you aren't, I don't see how a conservative can have a clear conscience after casting a vote that elects a Democrat.

And there must be no misunderstanding: A vote for Tancredo is effectively a vote for the Democrat. It's a virtual mathematical certainty.

    Update 8/1/2010: Not surprising, but the first poll since Tancredo entered the race confirms what I wrote above last week:

    Results also show that Tom Tancredo has brought Republican Party nightmares vividly to life, splitting conservative voters in half and delivering a hefty plurality to Democrat John Hickenlooper in a three-way general election race, according to the poll.

    In that matchup based on interviews with 1,015 likely voters, Tancredo -- representing the tiny American Constitution Party -- would match Republican Dan Maes at 24 percent support, while Hickenlooper would walk away with 46 percent of the vote. Tancredo would do the same to Republican Scott McInnis, the poll said.


    Exactly as I suggested, Tancredo hasn't extracted any votes from Hickenlooper. I said it was unlikely that Hickenlooper would get less than 45%--it turns out he has 46%.


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