The Colorado Governor’s Mansion: A House of Horrors For The GOP by Gregory Hilton

Earlier this year the Colorado Governor’s Mansion was expected to be an easy pick-up for the Republican Party. It has now turned out to be a house of horrors, and Democrats can not believe their good fortune. Retiring Gov. Bill Ritter (D) is so unpopular he did not try to run for re-election, but must now regret that decision. In a Fox News poll released on Tuesday, the Republican nominee is running a distant third and has few prospects for gaining support. The poll has Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) at 44%, former Congressman Tom Tancredo of the American Constitution Party at 34%, with GOP nominee Dan Maes at 15%.
Republicans would have captured the governorship if Maes had been willing to drop out of the race after the primary. Practically every major Republican in the state urged Maes to resign. Many of them withdrew their prior endorsements. The GOP had an excellent standby candidate in former Lt. Governor Jane Norton. Republicans are continuing to urge Maes to leave the campaign, but if that happens now it will still be difficult for Tancredo to win because his negatives are so high.
Earlier this year Tancredo ironically told Tea Party groups they needed to avoid third party candidates because those campaigns only resulted in Democratic victories. After the August Republican primary, Tancredo does deserve credit for promising to withdraw from the race if Maes would do the same. Unfortunately for Republicans, their nominee refused the offer.
If Maes stays in the race and gets less than 10%, the Republican Party would then lose its position at the top of the ballot. This would impact future candidates. Many prominent Republicans have criticized Gov. Charlie Crist (FL), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Libertarian Party candidates for running independent campaigns. It would be difficult for them to now reverse course and back Tancredo’s independent candidacy.
The victory of the unknown Maes in the Republican primary was a major fluke. Republicans were well ahead in the polls but their leading candidate, former Congressman Scott McInnis, was involved in a plagiarism scandal shortly before the August primary. McInnes accepted $300,000 from a non-profit foundation for a report he did not write. He paid the money back, but media coverage during the primary focused almost entirely on McInnes, and they largely ignored Maes.
It was impossible for McInnes to drop out when the scandal broke, but he was expected to withdraw after the primary. This would have allowed the Republican state committee to select another nominee. The plan fell apart because McInnis lost the primary to the little known Maes, who was the only other person on the ballot.
There is an open U.S. Senate seat also on the Colorado ballot. Ken Salazar resigned two years ago to become Secretary of the Interior and Sen. Michael Bennet (D) was appointed to his vacancy. The Republican Party recruited former Lt. Governor Norton but she was upset in the primary by Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. Buck’s victory was viewed as a major Tea Party triumph but there were few issues on which Buck and Norton were in disagreement.
What is Wrong With Dan Maes?
Maes has never held public office and has worked for a credit reporting agency for 15 years. Since his victory, Maes has been running almost 20 to 30 percent behind the Democratic nominee Hickenlooper. Maes has little money, no campaign manager and has received no support from the state Republican Party. Even the Republican Governor’s Association is not backing him.
Maes torpedoed his own campaign when he admitted lying about his background. He now says prior claims he was an undercover agent for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are false. They have no record of Maes ever working for them. Maes also had to pay $17,500 for campaign-finance violations.
He first raised eyebrows by claiming Denver’s popular bike-sharing program was part of a “well-disguised” U.N. plot to “take away America’s sovereignty”, and it “threatens our personal freedoms.” Maes has not been able to pay his mortgage and GOP donors have given him money which appears to be another possible campaign violation.
What is Wrong With Tom Tancredo?
Former Congressman is known for his opposition to illegal immigration and his many controversial statements. Earlier this year heappeared to be endorsing Jim Crow Laws. They were literacy tests adopted by Southern states after blacks were granted citizenship rights under the 15th Amendment. Potential black registrants had to answer difficult questions and were also confronted with a poll tax. Both practices were banned by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and African American turnout increased by a huge percentage after the restrictions were lifted.
Tancredo does not use the phrase Jim Crow Laws, but instead talks of a literacy and civics test requirement for voters. This was part of Tancredo’s platform when he sought the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, and says “This is our country. Let’s take it back. . . The race for America is on right now.” Tancredo spoke about the tests at last week’s First National Tea Party Convention and is actively lobbying for the proposal in the Colorado legislature. He received enthusiastic applause in saying, “If you can’t answer the same questions an immigrant has to answer in order to become a citizen, what the hell right do you have to vote? . . . People who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”
According to Tancredo, the President was elected “mostly because I think that we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country.” He outlined the proposal in a letter to Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll (D-Denver), “To suggest that any civics literacy test will necessarily be discriminatory is absurd on its face. Ignorance comes in all sizes, colors and flavors.” The former Congressman included “a list of 100 sample civics questions used by the federal government for the naturalization civics test,” and suggested they might provide the basis for his proposed exam. Carroll is the first black Speaker in Colorado history and said Tancredo should know “how hateful those tests were and how hateful that period of history was.”
The former Congressman responded by saying “the left has an obsession with race”, and says his call for a test is to obtain participation only from voters who understand the government. An increased focus on the study of history and government in our schools is a wonderful idea. I have cringed in watching Jay Leno ask very simple questions to people on the street and receive moronic answers. I also wish all of our voters had the ability to read, but I would be surprised if any lawmaker endorsed the return of Jim Crow Laws. The call for new literacy and civics tests at the ballot box smacks of racism and bigotry.
The Republican Party should not be identified with proposals which imply black and brown Obama voters are incapable of making informed political decisions. This is especially true because according to the 2010 Census projections, white people will be a minority in the U.S. by the year 2050. Tancredo’s four grandparents were all immigrants from Italy, and he was the most prominent foe of illegal immigration on Capitol Hill. The illegal immigration problem is a serious concern, and many steps have been taken to address it. It continues to be a problem, and we still do not have control of our borders.
America is a nation of immigrants, but there is a legitimate debate between people wanting to come here for a better life and those who are trying to preserve their current standard of living. There are 2.5 million welfare recipients in Los Angeles County and a significant number of them immigrated to the United States in the past two decades. We have cut back on legal immigration, but many of those who are expressing concerns about immigration levels are also distancing themselves from Tancredo because his rhetoric is so caustic and appears to have racial overtones.
The former Congressman served on Capitol Hill from 1998 until his retirement in 2008, and says if there is another terrorist attack in the United States we should respond by bombing the Muslim holy sites in Mecca and Medina. He calls La Raza “a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses,” and says he “intensely dislikes John McCain.” Tancredo says he is glad McCain lost.
Blacks were not the only people targeted by Jim Crow Laws. The first literacy tests were passed to depress voting among Irish-Catholic immigrants in 19th century Connecticut and Massachusetts. Does Tancredo know about the extreme discrimination which faced Italians when they came to this country in the 18th and 19th centuries? They were the second most likely ethnic group to be lynched.

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