Former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo believes national Republican Party leaders and donors will “probably” attempt to torpedo his gubernatorial campaign, as they apparently did last time he ran, dropping a quarter of a million dollars into an attack campaign that Tancredo thinks cost him the 2014 GOP gubernatorial nomination and handed it to former Congressman Bob Beauprez, a Republican, who went on to lose to Democrat John Hickenlooper.
Asked if he believes fellow Republicans will try this again (minus the Beauprez part), Tancredo said, “I have absolutely no doubt that they could and probably will.”
During 2014 GOP primary, Tancredo, a far-right conservative on many issues, came under attack by multiple Republican groups.
One, called the Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CJO), was funded by national donors. It spent $250,000 attacking Tanc, over half of which apparently came from the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), led by GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, via the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). The rest of the CJO money apparently came from GOP donors Ken Griffin, Linda McMahon, Marlene Ricketts, Paul Singer, and others.
The CJO, a national organization, is linked to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose nephew, Doug Robinson, is running against Tancredo.
To spend the money in Colorado, CJO passed it to two groups here: $175,000 to Colorado Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CCJO), which has a Massachusetts address, and $75,000 to Colorado Republicans Who Want to Win (CRWWW).
The CRWWW money was spent on radio ads attacking Tancredo in the final days of the 2014 GOP primary, specifically in Mesa and El Paso Counties — a strategic move that Tancredo believes tipped the race to Beauprez, who won by about a three-point margin.
A call to Charles Gantt, who’s the agent for CCJO, seeking to find out if his group plans to attack Tancredo again was not returned.
“Who Are They Kidding?”
John Suthers, Colorado Attorney General at the time, denied any knowledge of RGA’s or RAGA’s involvement, as did Ryan Call, then Colorado’s Republican chair.
Tancredo thinks they had to have known.
“John Suthers was on the executive committee of RAGA,” Tancredo points out. “There is no way they can accept that much money, and spend it, and not know what was going on. Who are they kidding?”
Tancredo, along with former GOP state vice chair Mark Baisley, called for an investigation at the time, but none was conducted.
Tancredo, who later organized a campaign to oppose Christie’s presidential bid, thinks the former New Jersey governor’s departure from the RGA, along with changes in Colorado GOP leadership, make it less likely national Republicans will go after him.
He doesn’t believe GOP state chair, Jeff Hays, who he describes as “fair,” would allow meddling from national Republicans in the Colorado GOP primary.
Tancredo to Meet with Colorado GOP Chair
Tancredo plans to meet with Hays soon to discuss the matter, he said.
“I will talk to Jeff Hays about that,” Tancredo said. “He has reached out to me. I’ve talked to him a little bit. I’m going to make that a very important part of our understanding.”
GOP mega donor Singer, who donated $50,000 in 2014 to stop Tancredo, is currently under attack by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who met with Tancredo just before he announced his gubernatorial bid.
Singer, who helped finance the Never Trump campaign, made news recently when it was revealed that the Washington Free Beacon, a Singer-backed website, first hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. The firm produced a dossier with accusations that haven’t been verified. Later, Fusion GPS was hired by Democrats to continue the research, which focused on Trump’s alleged connections, in many senses of the word, to Russia.
The bottom line for Tancredo: If he’s leading in the polls, he says, establishment Republicans will probably go after him again this election.
“What will increase the potential that they do this again is my standing in the polls,” Tancredo said. “That’s what happened last time. I was winning, and that really pissed them off. They kept waiting and waiting, thinking certainly his numbers will go down with more people getting in. They didn’t, and it resulted in a last-minute deluge of money and negative advertising.”
If that occurs, there will certainly be something that they will try to do. What it is, I’m not sure.”
Local Republicans: Tanc Wants to Legalize Heroin
Tancredo was attacked by locally funded Colorado GOP groups, too.
One independent expenditure committee, called Make Colorado Great Again (MCGA), which was backing Republican Mike Kopp in the primary, received major donations from former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong and Marilyn Ware, who was Ambassador to Finland under President H.W. Bush and who recently gave a major contribution to Walker Stapleton, H.W Bush’s first cousin. Ware didn’t return a call.
The MCGA ad falsely alleged that Tancredo not only supports legalization of pot but also heroin, PCP, and cocaine. (Listen here to radio ad.)
“I have a feeling it won’t be the marijuana issue again, but I don’t know that,” Tancredo said. “That’s what they used, although they couldn’t care less about the issue. They nuanced my position and made it sound like I wanted to give drugs to kids.”
Christopher Marston, who’s the registered agent for Make Colorado Great Again, did not return a call seeking to know if he has plans to attack Tancredo again.
“We just had to sit there and watch what happened”
This election, Tancredo says he’s preparing for GOP attacks.
“If we have a successful fundraising effort, then we will have enough money that we will keep toward the end in anticipation of something like this. We didn’t have a dime last time. You’re really not supposed to have any money left in a campaign when it’s coming to the end. And we didn’t. And so we just had to sit there and watch what happened. And so this time, if we can raise the money, will be prepared to respond, because who knows what it will be.”