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Tom Tancredo, Dog the Bounty Hunter & Sheriff Joe Arpaio draw a bead on John Hickenlooper

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The aforementioned poll, conducted by CNN and Time, shows Tancredo with 29 percent support among likely voters, compared to 21 percent for Maes. Of course, Democrat John Hickenlooper continues to maintain a commanding lead overall, with 47 percent. But Dodge is particularly jazzed by stats showing Tancredo narrowly leading Hickenlooper among independent voters, 41 percent to 40 percent. Here's the graphic in question:

Of course, this one percent difference is within the margin of error and may be statistically insignificant. But Dodge sees it as pointing in the right direction.

The independents "mean everything," he says. "We have to get a huge plurality of Republicans, naturally, but we have to get over half of the independents -- and then we have to have some of the Democrats to win this race -- and we think we can do it." To him, inching ahead in independent voters is "a huge step."

Getting Republican voters to cast their ballots for Tancredo represents a different kind of challenge -- convincing people accustomed to supporting the GOP to make the leap. In this respect, he thinks a new batch of radio spots featuring former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez will have an impact.

"He's the consummate Republican," Dodge says of Beauprez. "He was chairman of the party, a congressman, and he has seen the light. He's willing to lend his name and his voice. That ad wasn't scripted. It was off the top of his head. And we think [former Republican Senate candidate] Bob Schaffer is going to do one of these non-scripted things, too.

"The message has got to be that it's okay for Republicans to vote for Tom Tancredo, because principles matter," he continues. "That's what people can and will take out of these ads, and I do think that it's gaining traction and momentum. However, the stereotype is extremely strong. People for forty years have walked into that booth and sought out the 'R' and made the check-mark, and that's going to be very difficult to overcome just because of habit and tradition. But Tom is doing everything he can to change the face of that equation and let people know that he's been a Republican all his life. The fact that he's running on the Constitution Party ticket was the only way available for him to get into the race -- so it's okay for Republicans to vote for Tom Tancredo, because of the principles he holds."

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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