God has a plan for all of us," Tom Tancredo says. "I just wish he'd quit teasing me so much." Among the teases on election night: talk-show host Hugh Hewitt tweeting that MSNBC's Chris Matthews had predicted that the American Constitution Party candidate would score an upset in Colorado's gubernatorial election, just as Tancredo was sitting down to dinner with supporters. But within two hours — and long before Dan Maes surrendered — Tancredo was giving his concession speech. Still, in just three short months, Tancredo had gotten "600,000 people or more to vote for me," he says. "They actually voted for me."
Pretty good for a man who two years earlier had retired from political life — even if he couldn't retire altogether, since Tancredo had lost most of his nest egg to a Bernie Madoff supporter recommended by Mike Rosen. That provided plenty of fodder at the August 2009 Tancredo roast emceed by Rosen, where Tancredo ended the evening with a heartfelt speech that labeled his quixotic run for president in 2008 his "last political act."
And that, he says now, is another lesson learned: "Don't make any definitive statements. Ever."
But we're counting on Tancredo to make plenty of them on the evening of Tuesday, November 16, when he and Gustavo Arellano, author of ¡Ask a Mexican! (see his column below) and the recipient of the Metro State 2010 Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship, meet at Metro's King Center for a civilized debate on immigration (though he points out that the last time he was at Auraria to discuss immigration, with former Governor Dick Lamm, the police had to escort them off campus). "I've never seen a public-policy problem that could ever be solved unless you talk about it," Tancredo says, "and you can't talk about it if you're usually yelling about it."
"I look forward to debating one of the great Know Nothings of our time," Arellano adds, "and just hope that the audience will allow us to make asses of ourselves without any interruptions."
For details on how to get tickets to the debate, watch the Latest Word.
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Party on: While Tancredo contemplates his next act, the American Constitution Party is contemplating its new role. By winning 11 percent of the vote, Maes managed to salvage the Colorado Republican Party's major-political-party status — but Tancredo's run also netted the ACP more than three times the 10 percent of the gubernatorial vote required for a party to rate major-party status.
"We haven't been officially notified yet," says Doug "Dayhorse" Campbell, who was initially the ACP's vice-presidential candidate until Tancredo took the top line and moved in Pat Miller (no, not the Gabby Gourmet) as his number two. "But it ain't over until the big lady sings her final note."
And if that lady is singing in the legislature, Campbell says he wouldn't be surprised if the Democrats and Republicans push a measure to remove the ACP's new, major-party status — a challenge for a party that only has a thousand members in a state with 3,000 voting precincts. "There are certain counties where we don't have registered voters," he admits. "We're still in a growth situation. We think that, quite frankly, there ought not to be this tension between major and minor parties. There should be just parties; there shouldn't be different rules."