The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels updates the state of play in the Colorado GOP gubernatorial primary, where top contenders Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo are running neck-and-neck in polls widely rumored but as yet unseen:
With the primary election around the corner, Tom Tancredo said Friday he believes he has slipped from being the front-runner in the GOP race for governor to second place behind Bob Beauprez.
Tancredo blamed a radio spot that claims he supports the legalization of hard drugs and two TV ads paid for by Democrats that are attempting to influence the GOP primary outcome.
Tancredo said he has been told Beauprez leads him by 1 percent in a recent poll that was commissioned on another issue, but included a question about the four Republicans running for governor…
Over the last few days, Republicans have been up in arms over Democratic-funded ads "attacking" both Tancredo and Beauprez, which seem in hindsight to have been a little too transparently written to boost Tancredo with conservative primary voters–"Tancredo HATES Obamacare!"–while hitting Beauprez in more authentically negative ways that conservatives won't appreciate.
The ads were designed to make Tancredo more appealing to GOP voters and Beauprez less appealing, political analysts said.
"What has happened instead," Tancredo said, "is Republicans are upset Democrats are trying to pick the nominee."
Former state Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, said the Democratic meddling has made her rethink her decision to support Tancredo.
"I'm leaning toward Bob Beauprez," she said. "If the Democrats think Beauprez is the one to beat, then as a good Republican why shouldn't I?" [Pols emphasis]
As we noted when these ads first debuted a couple of weeks ago, it's far from unprecedented for an opposing party to run ads intended to influence a primary election, and/or begin to define one's likely opposition before the primary. And there's nothing exceptional about the candidates in that primary attempting to use such ad buys for their own advantage–"it means they're scared of me," candidates targeted can plausibly claim.
But in this case, we can assure readers that Democratic campaign strategists are afraid of neither Tancredo nor Beauprez. Recent polls show clearly that Gov. John Hickenlooper is pulling away from the entire pack of Republican challengers, and Beauprez's own consultants released a poll showing him losing to Gov. Hickenlooper by a devastating fifteen-point margin. Democrats have plenty to worry about going into this midterm election, but the Colorado gubernatorial race is rapidly losing its competitiveness.
So why would Democrats spend money on this GOP primary if they can easily beat whoever wins? There are two principal reasons. The first is simply a numbers game. Bob Beauprez is personally quite wealthy, so even if the Republican Governor's Association and other national funding sources write off the Colorado gubernatorial race, Beauprez can fund a vanity campaign out of his own pocket. That means Democrats would have to divert resources to an otherwise noncompetitive race–and with so many other races needing attention, that would hurt Democrats. This factor alone may be reason enough for many Republicans to prefer Beauprez–the biggest downside being the the vast array of looney tunes statements Beauprez has made in recent years, which could well negate any advantage he brings by sullying the whole Republican brand. It's worth noting that, although our readers have become well-acquainted with Beauprez's long record of downright crazy statements since exiting electoral politics in 2006, the media has yet to pick it up.
When they do, it's not going to be pretty for Beauprez.
With that said, there is no politician in Colorado politics today more capable of self-harming the Republican brand than Tom Tancredo. Tancredo's very high name recognition, and nationally prominent association with immoderate anti-immigrant demagoguery, are nothing short of poisonous for a Republican Party hoping to appeal to the state and nation's fastest-growing segment of voters. Tancredo as the gubernatorial nominee would set back state GOP chairman Ryan Call's "Latino outreach effort" by–this is not hyperbole–several decades. Unfortunately for Call and other Republicans hoping to turn over a new leaf with Latinos, recent developments among the GOP grassroots, manifesting in the ouster last week of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by an unknown Tea Party anti-immigrant opponent, undeniably boost Tancredo. Tancredo has no ability to self-fund his campaign, and combined with the toxicity he would bring to the Republican ticket this November, it's plain to see why Democrats regard a little spending in this race to be a worthwhile investment.
But folks, there's no need to read more into this than what there is. To the extent Democrats prefer Tancredo to Beauprez, it is an incremental preference–and they'll be able to use either one to their advantage.