The Denver mayoral race turns into a tempest in a Tea Party pot

Just when you thought this mayoral campaign couldn't blow any harder, Tom Tancredo enters the ring. Not that the five-term congressman, one-time presidential aspirant, one-time gubernatorial candidate and all-time House Crazy asked to get in on the action. But once the negative ads start, how much lower can you go?


A couple of political pros who'd already thought that Romer had hit bottom with his anti-Hancock ad were unlucky enough to be among the hundreds of households called last week by an anonymous pollster, so clueless about Colorado that he referred to Denver's former mayor as "Frederick Peena." During his dozen-minute spiel, he reeled off a series of statements about the current candidates for Denver mayor, asking about the effectiveness of those statements in influencing your vote on a scale of 1 to 10. One of the questions was a somewhat negative query about Chris Romer, alluding to the investment mess in New Mexico. But all the rest were aimed at Michael Hancock, pointing fingers at his city pay-raise vote and creationism flubs in a variety of ways. "It was really nasty," says one communication director who got the call. "Gross," says another.

Just about the only thing the Peena-ista didn't ask: Would knowing that Tom Tancredo had endorsed a candidate affect your vote?

But that was coming. The Tancredo connection was about to blow up, and blow up big, the way all Typhoid Tom controversies do — whether he wants them to or not.

The new calls started this weekend, from yet another unnamed political operative, this one with a slight Spanish accent. At one home in southwest Denver (his neighbor got the same call), the father of a politician found this message on his machine:

"Chris Romer was being endorsed by former mayor Federico Peña. His opponent was being endorsed by Tom Tancredo. We all know that Tancredo has repeatedly attacked our community. Tancredo has supported devastating policies that lead to racial profiling and policies that make it more difficult for our children to receive affordable health-care coverage and access to quality education. We can't afford to have someone in the mayor's office who doesn't understand the issues we face. There is a clear difference in the candidates in this race. Please vote for Chris Romer for Denver Mayor."

On Sunday, Crisanta Duran, a new legislator who was named Romer's deputy campaign manager two weeks ago, sent out her own e-mail, headlined "Why Tom Tancredo's Endorsement of Michael Hancock Matters."

"It's not surprising that Tom Tancredo endorsed Michael Hancock," she wrote. "Michael's position on 'Secure Communities' is simply unacceptable. 'Secure Communities' has done little to make our neighborhoods more 'secure.' In fact, it has resulted in 5,880 American citizens being wrongly identified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as being undocumented persons and subject to deportation in the past year alone. Racial profiling is never acceptable. No victim should ever be afraid to call the police for fear of being deported. There is no doubt that the 5,880 American citizens identified probably do not look like Roy, Rachel or Chris Romer. They probably look like me, James Mejia or maybe even Michael Hancock. Yet, Chris Romer is the only candidate in the Denver Mayor's race who is willing to make the pledge to opt out of this program and demand an end to racial profiling. There are some voters who have told me that they are having a difficult time deciding who to vote for in this race. Let's face it, Chris may not be the first person you'd like to grab a beer with. But the one thing that we know about Chris is that he has always stood up for what he believed was right, even if it wasn't easy or popular. He fought for undocumented students to gain access to the American dream by receiving in-state college tuition. He reformed the payday loan industry in Denver so companies couldn't charge ridiculous interest rates. He cracked down on the mortgage industry and supported tougher regulations for brokers to protect consumers from dishonest lenders. Chris has a clear track record of standing up for progressive values. Now it is time to stand with him. Vote for Chris Romer for Denver Mayor."

Duran is right about a few things she mentions in her missive: Romer did stand up for in-state tuition, reforming the pay-day loan industry, and other progressive causes. But she's wrong about a few things, too. Romer is a fine person to have a beer with. And Tom Tancredo has never endorsed Michael Hancock.

I know, because last week I had a beer over lunch with Tancredo and Peter Boyles, former colleagues at Colorado Public Television's Colorado Inside Out, men with whom I share very few political beliefs but occasionally a few laughs — and always a strong appreciation of the First Amendment. In fact, the last time I'd seen Tancredo, it was when I moderated a panel discussion on immigration between him and Gustavo Arellano, author of Ask a Mexican. This time, our plan was to catch up not just on immigration, but on other recent Tancredo tempests in a Tea Party pot, including being labeled a "big bully" by Dan Maes and grappling with MSNBC's Martin Bashir over whether Tancredo would have preferred "the death of the President as opposed to bin Laden." But our discussion quickly moved on to Tancredo's life growing up in the political hotbed of northwest Denver (we were at Gaetano's, just a mile away from where he was raised and got his first job working at the original Elitch Gardens) and the current mayoral race.

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Hancock also supports undocumented students receiving in-state college tuition. In fact, all of the original candidates did to a certain extent, even the Republicans. All of the things that Duran lists that Romer supports are in fact easy AND popular.

Ray Denonville
Ray Denonville

The next mayor will be decided by about 10% of registered voters unless the Clerk and Recorder calls in the SWAT Unit.


"pick a 527.. any 527..put it back in the shuffle the deck"If anyone believes Tommy T has nothing but disgust for Romer who has tried to treat DPS kids whose parents may not be here legally but are trying? Cool..Tommy can stay in Colorado one in Colorado cares about him anymore...(Tommy? Your time as anyone is gone.) and Bruce and Caldera and sit around your pretend campfire and share "woulda..coulda..shoulda" tales...


Issei sure who I was going to vote for but the reaction from the Romer camp made it for me . Romer is being too negative and appears to do anything to win . My vote goes too Hancock .