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Colorado GOP Deathly Afraid of Tom Tancredo & His Toxic Anti-Immigrant Candidacy

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The GOP has a demographic problem because they are alienating voters they could be winning with their opposition to issues like immigration reform.  This year, the GOP’s worst-case scenario is a possibility in Colorado, where the famously anti-immigrant former Congressman Tom Tancredo is running for governor.  Party leaders are deathly afraid that Tancredo — who once called Miami a “third-world country” — might win the nomination but lose the general election, in the process dragging down the hopes of other statewide Republican candidates.

At the Denver Post today is a great article about Colorado Republicans’ dilemma with Tancredo, and their fear that he is costing them gettable voters.  As the article begins:

Republican Judith Martinez can barely contain her ire when she talks about gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo and his position on illegal immigration.

The Lakewood mother of seven who is married to a Latino said she shares Tancredo’s frustration with some issues involving immigration. But she said the problem is the former congressman appeals to voters who want to “dehumanize” illegal immigrants.

“My husband Bryan told me if he didn’t oppose everything Democrats stand for, he would be tempted to move over to the Democratic Party, because he often feels that people who look like him are not welcome in the Republican Party,” Martinez said.

Her fears are not lost on key Republicans, who note that in a recent poll twice as many Latino voters had an unfavorable opinion of Tancredo than had a favorable view.

Immigration is shaping up to be a big issue this year in Colorado, where Latino voters are about 14% of the state electorate.  Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is running for Mark Udall’s Senate seat, and his refusal to support a path to citizenship has already been cited as a reason Gardner will have a much tougher time winning statewide than in his district.

A Tancredo nomination would make Republican victories this fall even more difficult, which is why leading conservatives and state GOP leaders have been warning against Tancredo.  As the Denver Post article continues:

An article written last month by KOA talk-show host Ross Kaminsky for the conservative magazine American Spectator. He explored the impact of immigration on Colorado politics, and a Tancredo candidacy.

“If he’s the eventual Republican nominee for the governor’s race in 2014, he will poison the entire ticket for the GOP,” Kaminsky wrote…

Former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams also raised concerns in an opinion piece in The Denver Post in February.

“Records don’t magically disappear. Tancredo would be forced on the defensive due to his history of controversial statements,” Wadhams said…

Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said “if Republicans are trying to mold themselves into a party that is more than a fringe, I can see why they want Tancredo out”…

Worrisome for some Republicans is Tancredo’s name ID will propel him to victory in the crowded primary. He served in Congress for 10 years, ran for president and still travels the country talking about immigration.

And it’s that subject that’s so unsettling to Martinez, 42, who attended her precinct caucus at Alameda High School on March 4. That’s where she unleashed her concerns about Tancredo.

This week, she said her opinion hasn’t changed.

Martinez grew up in a Latino neighborhood and was best friends with a girl who was smuggled into the country when she was 18 months old.

“I think when we’re talking about illegal immigration we need to recognize the humanity of the illegal immigrant,” she said. “I don’t think Tom Tancredo does that.”

View the full Denver Post article here — it’s a must-read.