Tom Tancredo changing registration to American Constitution Party, says past chair

Even before alleged plagiarist Scott McInnis released a statement refusing to kowtow to Tom Tancredo's high noon ultimatum to drop out of the governor's race, Tancredo had already told the Denver Post that he would launch his own gubernatorial bid. And although it's not official, the American Constitution Party's Doug Campbell is at this writing waiting for Tancredo to arrive at the Secretary of State's office to formally change his affiliation.

Tancredo's ACP candidacy "is unofficial right now," says Campbell, the immediate past chairman of the party's Colorado affiliate. "We have some paperwork to go through and take care of. And technically speaking, he can't be approved [as the party's choice for governor] until a couple of other things take place first. But we have been talking with him, and we're headed in that direction."

Campbell concedes that Tancredo's platform and that of the ACP aren't identical.

"I think we may have a couple of differences," he allows. "But if you get any two people in the same room, even if they're in the same party -- if they're Republicans or Democrats -- they're not going to agree on everything. But I'd say we have 95 percent or better agreement between our views and Tom's, and that's okay."

With that in mind, Ben Goss, the previously announced American Constitution Party candidate for governor, is ready to make way for Tancredo.

"I've talked to Ben, and basically what his position is at this late date is that Tom is better known and has a bigger following -- so he's able to get our message across, and to do it faster and better," Campbell maintains.

He adds, "We've been working for a long time toward having someone who's notable figure out that we have a better platform and a better situation. And we're not a top-down kind of party. Our candidates may not be who the big ones in the party necessarily want. We're a people-based party, and we have conservative positions -- and we feel that Tom pretty much fits right in."

Colorado Republican Party boss Dick Wadhams has excoriated Tancredo's plan to run for governor, arguing that if he does so, it'll hand the election to the presumptive Democratic nominee, John Hickenlooper. Campbell doesn't buy that.

"I don't know if Dick really understands how people are elected when there's more than just the big two running," he says. "It's whoever gets the most votes. So it's possible we could win with 35 percent of the vote. And [Wadhams is] essentially saying, 'You guys are going to steal Republican votes.' But as far as we're concerned, those votes belong to the people, not to the Republican Party. They'll vote for the candidates they feel best present their views. And I think many, many people will say Tom Tancredo represents their views better than Scott McInnis or Mr. Hickenlooper.

"Mr. Wadhams also says the Constitution Party has never pulled more than 5 percent in an election. But when I ran for the Secretary of State's office in 1994, I got 6 percent. And when I ran for the Senate in the last election, I got a little over 60,000 votes, if I recall. People are out there voting for us, because they like what we stand for, and like our platform."

Granted, the ACP hasn't had much large-scale electoral success. It's most notable elected candidate to date is Rick Jore, who was voted into the Montana House of Representatives in 2006. (Campbell also mentions the election of a couple of county officials in Nevada.) But former Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia recently signed up with the American Constitution Party, and Tancredo is clearly following suit.

If all goes as planned, Tancredo will appear at a press conference tomorrow morning to begin his campaign on behalf of the ACP. In the meantime, Campbell says, "we're happy to have him on-board."

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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