Tom Tancredo camp wants Dan Maes to take part in debates even though he's below 20%

Yesterday, Tom Tancredo's campaign sent out a release noting that Dan Maes had earlier said only candidates polling above 20 percent should be invited to participate in gubernatorial debates and wondering if he'd pull out now that a new Fox News poll puts him below that threshold. But Tancredo operations manager Cliff Dodge doesn't want Maes to follow through.

"Absolutely not," says Dodge in reference to remarks Maes made on KHOW's Caplis & Silverman show. "Whoever's running the debates, it's totally their opinion" about who should participate. "When we were in that position not long ago, I spoke to virtually all of the people who were running the debates, and Tom was invited to nine of the ten that the compliant duo" -- presumably Maes and John Hickenlooper, the Democratic frontrunner -- "decided they wouldn't attack each other over. So we're just going to see what he does."

Regarding Maes's release of documents pertaining to his firing as a Liberal, Kansas cop in 1985, Dodge resists the urge to pile on. When asked if the info dump might give Maes a boost, he says, "I will leave that to the general public to determine. He says it helps him, and having read the documents, I don't understand how. But I guess everybody can interpret it for themselves."

He adds that, in his view, the assorted letters Maes made public "don't put him in a great light."

The aforementioned Fox News poll reflects better on Tancredo; the survey shows him trailing Hickenlooper 44 percent to 34 percent, with Maes managing just 15 percent. And Dodge thinks "if we were in the last ten days of the election and they were running nightly averages, Tom would be even ahead of 34 percent because of the momentum he's gained and the way things are breaking."

In Dodge's view, this trend was illustrated by this past weekend's Grizzly Rose fundraiser featuring Dog the Bounty Hunter and Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio. "The enthusiasm and the outpouring of support was undeniable," he says. "We are most pleased about all the people who showed up and all the support that it's been generating for the campaign. It was a major high."

Still, exuberance alone doesn't account for Tancredo's rise in the polls. Dodge also thinks "Tom's dispelled the notion of being a one-issue candidate. He has concrete plans about all kinds of things, including the economy and transportation and jobs. I just think the more people read, see and hear, the more that they're making mental comparisons of their own -- and they think, this is a guy we can get behind and support. And we know how he's going to govern."

Pat Waak, head of Colorado's Democratic Party, doesn't think he'll get the chance. In fact, she believes John Hickenlooper will win the governor's race without breaking a sweat. Neither does she feel Hickenlooper is hurting his cause, and letting Tancredo challenge his lead, by playing safe.

If Dodge disagrees, he's smart enough not to mention it.

"Everybody's got to read the tea leaves in their own fashion," he maintains. "But I think anyone who talks specifics when answering questions has a leg up -- and I will tell you that Tom has been talking specifics. He's the one with the concrete ideas, and he's put them forth and is ready to let the public judge."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts