Political observers were left scratching their heads last week over why Walker Stapleton, who’s  Colorado’s Republican candidate for governor, would appear at a fundraising event with former Congressman Tom Tancredo, whose views on undocumented immigrants (kick them out), Mecca (bomb it), abortion (ban it) and much more don’t align with the swing voter sensibility that most rational candidates aim to mimic in a general election like the one coming up in November.

One explanation: Stapleton has no prayer of winning the general election if his GOP base voters, including the ones who love Tancredo, aren’t enthusiastic about Stapleton. And Tanc is an enthusiasm magnet for the GOP base.

This could explain not only why Stapleton wrapped Tancredo in a tighter embrace last week but also why Stapleton told a radio host again a couple weeks ago that he’d like to campaign with Trump here in Colorado. He said the same thing in June.

If Stapleton’s intent was to fire up his base, it appears to have worked, according to the right-wing focus group of Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden, radio hosts on KNUS 710AM’s afternoon show.  They approved!

“I give Walker Stapleton a ton of credit,” said Hayden, a former Denver TV reporter. “He did not back down one iota. You know, Tom introduced him, gave a great speech…. Congratulations to you, Walker Stapleton!”

Hayden’s advice: Let Tancredo “go out to every event. They need a cheerleader type to rev people up.”

Boniwell, who’s been described as the id of Colorado’s Republican Party, was impressed by the Tancredo-Stapleton event, but he predicted that Stapleton will lose in November.

“It’s over, you know, basically,” said Bonniwell, who’s also the owner of the Glendale/Cherry Creek Chronicle.

Here’s their conversation:

HAYDEN: …We wanted to talk about a Walker Stapleton [fundraiser with Tancredo] we were at that was very good. So like, you know, we’ll see. The common wisdom is, “Okay, things are going to start gearing up!”. And we’ve heard from people connected with–.

BONNIWELL: The common wisdom is that the election is over. That’s the common wisdom.

HAYDEN: No! That may be–.

BONNIWELL: It is! It is common wisdom.

HAYDEN: Well, anyway, but Molly, I agree with you. Walker Stapleton needs to get much more aggressive….

CALLER MOLLY:  Julie, just one more thing: I think I’ve said this before, but you know there are many governors and judges that are acting outside of the Constitution. They need to be indicted.

BONNIWELL: All right!

CALLER MOLLY: You can’t violate the United States Constitution that says it’s illegal — a felony — to assist an illegal.

BONNIWELL: If you’re a Democrat you can.

HAYDEN: Nope, I agree with you. I agree with you. I don’t know — I don’t know –. I wish they would do it, too.

CALLER MOLLY: We’re letting them get away with murder!

BONNIWELL: All right! Molly, you get ’em! Good job! Thanks for the call, Molly.

HAYDEN: … I was wondering what would happen at this event because Tom Tancredo and Greg Lopez — another Republican candidate for governor before the primary — were both going to introduce Walker Stapleton. And I give Walker Stapleton a ton of credit. He did not back down one iota. You know, Tom introduced him, gave a great speech. There was a reporter, I think from the Colorado Independent, who was kind of standing just off the propert — in the bushes, listening.

BONNIWELL: Being a jerk.

HAYDEN: Well, you know, [unintelligible].

BONNIWELL: No, he was a jerk. He was a jerk…

BONNIWELL: No, I thought Walker did a good job.

HAYDEN: He did a very good job. I mean, number one, like I said, he didn’t back off one inch from Tom Tancredo and his stance on sanctuary cities. So, once again, shame on you Channel 4. And congratulations to you, Walker Stapleton! There were a ton of people there, too. We ran into Tim Neville. Casper Stockham was there. A ton of people were there, really from all over the place — quite a few from Denver.

BONNIWELL: They had a lot of ‘real’ conservatives. There wasn’t just the usual, you know, real estate developers.

HAYDEN: Right. Right. No, and Walker Stapleton gave a good presentation, I thought.

BONNIWELL: You know, I thought he did a good job, too. I thought Tom and Greg Lopez did a great job, themselves. It was fun. We had a good time.

HAYDEN: We had a good time. So invite us to all the events, because Chuck and I are happy to–. There was great food.

BONNIWELL: There was great food.

HAYDEN: It was great food and drink there, too.


HAYDEN: But again, I think that, you know, for Walker Stapleton, I think a couple things are important. Number one, it’s important to keep getting the message out. And I liked that he had some other stuff to say besides just not how dangerous Jared Polis is, particularly with that group. Everybody there knows how dangerous Jared Polis is. And he actually got fairly specific about some of the things he wants to do, and I think that’s good. Here’s the only advice I would give his campaign — and maybe you just, you know, let Tom Tancredo and Greg Lopez go out to every event. They need a cheerleader type to rev people up. Because here’s the thing–.

BONNIWELL: Robert Blaha!

HAYDEN: Robert Blaha — well, somebody like that. All of the people there were Walker Stapleton supporters, right? So, you didn’t need to convince us to vote for Walker Stapleton. But what you did need to convince us to do — and continue to convince us to do — maybe they need Anil Mathai out there — to say, “You need to sign up! You need to make phone calls! You need to knock on doors!” You know? And, “How many people here are going to–?” I mean, we took a yard sign, and–.

BONNIWELL: Yeah, we took a yard sign. We’ll put it up, you know, to annoy our neighbors.

HAYDEN: Yeah! Well, no, we don’t know know where our neighbors stand.

BONNIWELL: Yeah, we do! The guy on the corner–.

HAYDEN: Well, the one across the corner is a Jared Polis supporter.

BONNIWELL: Well, they all are. But as a practical pattern — you know, I mean, really, Walker Stapleton has been looking forward to this [his] whole life. And it’s over, you know, basically. Because he’s not going to be able to –. Even if he brought a hard hitting campaign now, he can’t — you know, there’s no method to get out there. The Colorado [Springs] Gazette is kind of bland. And The Denver Post isn’t going to do it, so, you know–. But, I like him. I like him.

HAYDEN: Well, I’m not giving up! I think — I think, it’s just–. Okay, I’m just going to tell everybody, Chuck is in a bad place lately, because I –.

BONNIWELL: [laughs].

HAYDEN: So, take everything he says and throw out the bottm 50 percent of the negativity. And then you’ll have him back to where he normally is. All right, should we go to the phones, here?

BONNIWELL: You know, I wish him the best. He seems like a good guy. He seems like a good guy. It’s not his fault he’s related to [unintelligible].

HAYDEN: It’s not over. Don’t anyone listen to Chuck! No one.

Listen to Hayden and Boniwell here: