DENVER – Firebrand and former congressman Tom Tancredo will again run for governor of Colorado in 2018, in what will be his third straight try at the seat and what he says will be the “ugliest” race he’s ever run in.
“I think we need to shake up Colorado politics a little bit, and I’m the guy to do that,” he told Denver7, suggesting he might need a Haz-Mat suit for a race that could get dirty quickly. “This is beyond something we’ve ever done before.”
“There’s an establishment here in Colorado just like there is in Washington, I guess we can call it the swamp,” he continued, saying that he wanted to “shake up” that establishment.
Tancredo ran unsuccessfully for the seat in both 2010 and 2014. He lost the Republican primary to Bob Beauprez in 2014 after receiving 14,000 fewer votes, and was the runner up to John Hickenlooper in 2010 when he ran on the American Constitution Party ticket.
That year, he garnered 36 percent of the state’s vote fresh off his decision not to seek re-election to Congress. But he ran as a Republican in 2014, though he left the party a year afterward.
Tancredo had previously served as Colorado’s representative for the sixth congressional district from 1999 to 2009.
Tancredo made the announcement that he’d try again in 2018 on Facebook Tuesday morning, before he stopped by for an interview with Denver7. He has yet to file his campaign committee with the Secretary of State’s Office, but will host several kick-off events Wednesday across the Front Range.
Tancredo has run his past two campaigns on hard-line messaging regarding gun control and immigration in particular, and has drawn rebukes from top Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hickenlooper.
“My immigration position is just anathema to them, because you either have crony capitalists on the right who are taking advantage of cheap labor, or you have the open borders crowd who know that more and more immigration – legal or illegal – will lead to more Democratic votes,” Tancredo told Denver7 Tuesday. “So as a result, that’s the establishment. That is what the establishment is all about, and it’s a very important position to them.”
During his past two campaigns, he’s picked up endorsements from Ted Nugent, Joe Arpaio and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, among others. When Tancredo launched his campaign Twitter account Tuesday, a retweet of Malkin’s congratulations was his first action.
The Denver Post reported in late September that Tancredo and former White House adviser Steve Bannon had met to discuss the possibility of a run for governor. Bannon heads Breitbart News, the far-right website where Tancredo is also a contributor.
Tancredo told Denver7 Tuesday that he would accept help from Bannon, President Trump, or anyone else, saying he will need it in what he expects to be a tough race.
“Oh yeah. Heck yes. Sure. I’m going to need all of the help I can get,” Tancredo told Denver7 when asked if he’d accept the help from Bannon or Trump. “I identify with Trump’s promises. We’re going to do all these things—I’m just waiting.”
“This is going to be the ugliest race I’ve ever run in, and I’ve run in some ugly races,” Tancredo added. “The establishment will do anything. They’re going to spend millions of dollars to try and destroy me before this primary is over with because they know my base is strong. They have to destroy that base now, and they will.”
Tancredo also recently went hunting with Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
Tancredo drew fire last year when he and his Team America PAC gave away a handgun as part of a fundraiser, and mistakenly stated that eight people were killed in an attack at a Minnesota mall carried out in the name of “radical Islam,” though no one was killed save for the suspect, who was shot dead by police.
Tancredo had also been set to speak at the VDARE conference that had been scheduled for next spring in Colorado Springs before it was canceled after one of its writers was found to have organized a white supremacist rally in Virginia that turned deadly.
But Tancredo joins a crowded field in the governor's race. There are more than seven other Republicans in the field, and at least five top Democrats.
A poll published last week by Colorado Politics showed that Tancredo had a solid lead on his Republican counterparts in the governor’s race, and that he was head to head with Jared Polis in a Republican-Democrat matchup, though it is the only poll released publicly so far that has showed such numbers.
“They know I have a base,” Tancredo said of his opponents. “That 20-some percent I mentioned, they’re my base. They’ve been there all the time. They’ve got to do something to destroy that, and the only way they do that is to turn me into Beezelbub.”
Tancredo said that should he make it through the Republican primary, he sees Polis has his top Democratic opponent, who Tancredo told Denver7 was “the most extreme candidate” the Democrats have ever floated.
“Baby, if you think I’m extreme, wait until you see what Polis is. He’s the polar opposite…maybe he’s on a different planet than I am.”
Polis and Cary Kennedy, who are both seeking the governorship next year, were quick to attack Tancredo Tuesday.
“Tom Tancredo has spent his career championing hate groups, vilifying immigrants and seeking divisiveness,” Polis said in a statement. “We cannot allow Steve Bannon’s toxic brand of hate and white nationalism to take root in Colorado.”
Kennedy sent out a fundraising email asking people to chip in to her campaign to fight Tancredo.
“Tom Tancredo is known for his hateful and divisive rhetoric, for pushing anti-immigrant policies and aligning with white nationalists. A poll released this month shows him with a big lead over other GOP candidates. This is who Cary could likely face off against in the general election -- and we can't waste any time getting ready for the fight ahead,” the email said, asking recipients to donate to her campaign.
Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Eric Walker said Tancredo’s entrance to the race showed “it is clear the Colorado GOP is in for a chaotic, nasty primary that will produce a weak general election nominee.”
That’s something Tancredo says he welcomes.
“I anticipate the ugliest race I’ve ever had, so I definitely will accept the support of anybody who is willing to provide it,” he said.