Mike Littwin: A state GOP dedicated to strange
The strangest thing about the GOP four-way governor’s primary is that it’s as if 2010 — officially the strangest run for governor in modern Colorado history — never had happened.
In case anyone could have forgotten, we’ll recap the 2010 race: Scott McInnis got paid big bucks for a paper he plagiarized, and then, as a capper, he threw an old friend under the bus. Dan Maes won the Republican nomination even though he fudged his past and also became convinced that a bike-sharing plan was a United Nations plot. Tom Tancredo sought to rescue the Republicans by running on the American Constitution Party ticket, but only after challenging Maes to a high noon showdown.
Nobody could forget any of that. And yet.
Four years after Republicans gave the governorship to John Hickenlooper, they’re on course to do it again.
This time, though, as The Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic pointed out the other day, Tancredo is playing the Maes role. In other words, Tancredo is the one from whom Republicans need rescuing.
There’s no mystery here. Depending on which source you trust, Tancredo is either a loser (Scott Gessler), a nightmare (Colorado Springs Gazette), poison to the Republican ticket (Ross Kaminsky in the American Spectator) or demagogic carnival barker (uh, me).
He’s such a poisonous nightmare of a loser that a left-leaning 527 is running ads about how conservative he is — hoping it will persuade Republicans to vote for him in the upcoming primary. Yes, it’s a little sleazy. It’s not as if Tancredo ever could win against Hickenlooper — he couldn’t — but the point of boosting Tancredo is that he could endanger Cory Gardner’s run and Mike Coffman’s run. But then there’s this: He also could damage Colorado’s reputation far more than Maureen Dowd’s series of columns on her many-months-after-the-fact run-in with edibles.
Tancredo is such a poisonous nightmare of a loser that the state’s GOP establishment — now working on a 10-year losing streak — turned to Bob Beauprez, who, in his last run for governor, lost by 17 points, to come to the rescue.
Let’s recap on our recap.
Tancredo came to the Republicans’ rescue and lost by 15 points even though Hickenlooper never ran a single negative ad against him.
This time, Beauprez is supposed to be the guy who comes to the Republican rescue and already has lost one race for governor by 17 points.
In the most recent poll — released by Beauprez — Tancredo is leading with 27 points and Beauprez is close behind at 25. Tancredo is ahead, but it’s not as if he actually is trying to win. He’s not. He refuses to debate. I’m not sure how often he even campaigns. And, in a sure sign he’s not trying to win, he’s trying to be as Tancredo-like as he can be.
Let’s talk impeachment. It’s all Tancredo talks about while running for governor. It makes no sense since governors, according to the constitutional texts I’ve consulted, play no role in impeaching a president. But it’s pure Tancredo.
And it’s getting worse. Sure, early in the race, he wrote an impeach-Obama op-ed for the right-wing-loony WorldNetDaily. And, yes, while in Oklahoma City to raise money, he made time to speak at a rally where he called for the impeachment of Obama and, as a bonus, Eric Holder. But it wasn’t as if anyone in Colorado was going to notice — except for those reporters clued in by that newfangled thing called the Google.
But then, at a recent forum in Pueblo attended by three of the four candidates (Beauprez had travel problems and was represented by Steve House), in a place where everyone would notice, Tancredo didn’t simply call for Obama’s impeachment. He called for everyone else in the field to join him. In the saner parts of the political world, this is the equivalent of saying, “Look at me. I’m nuts. Really, really nuts.”
Here’s the money quote, according to the Pueblo Chieftain: “We’re all going to do everything we can in order to reduce taxes, regulations and all the rest of that stuff — that’s Republican stuff, we’ll do it. But please promise the people of this state that if you are governor you’re going to tell the federal government to pound sand when they try to overtake our rights in the state of Colorado.
“When you look at what Obama has done, this guy should have been impeached about five years ago. We’ve got to stop him, some governor somewhere has got to say, ‘No more, that’s it. You’re not coming into this state and taking away our rights.’ I guarantee you, I swear to you, if I am the nominee of this party and then the governor of this state, we will have a fight with the federal government that will go down in history.”
You’d like to think that some Republican candidate would have been bold enough — or desperate enough (hint: Scott Gessler, Mike Kopp) — to suggest that this was crazy talk from an unserious man who wreaks havoc wherever he goes.
Actually, you wouldn’t think that. No one running in the Republican primary wants to be seen as even a little bit pro-Obama. Meanwhile, Democrats are hoping that Republicans are willing to be seen as very much pro-Tancredo. Strange, huh?