Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Tom Tancredo votes mean Amer. Constitution Party is preparing for major party status

By inching over 10 percent of the vote last Tuesday, Dan Maes saved the Colorado Republican Party from the humiliation of falling to minor-party status. But while Tom Tancredo didn't win the race, his 30 percent-plus of the vote elevated the American Constitution Party to a major Colorado party.

"We haven't been officially notified yet of major-party status," says Doug "Dayhorse" Campbell, who was the ACP's lieutenant governor candidate on the November ballot until Tancredo took over the top slot, and brought in his own second, Pat Miller. "I guess it's nice to be thought if in that way -- but we're still just really a small party."

So small, in fact, that the party only has about a thousand members -- and Colorado has 3,000 voting precincts. "There are certain counties where we don't have registered voters," Campbell says of the party that started back in 1992. "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."

And he has several ideas for how those rules should be changed. Even as a major party, the ACP won't have a primary -- certainly not a primary taxpayers fund, as they do now. "It's our feeling that we don't want to hang our internal party function on the backs of the taxpayers," Campbell says. "We think that's consistent with our position of less government, less taxes and less spending."

The six members of the ACP's executive committee will meet tonight, to discuss how the party's new status might change its operations. But Campbell anticipates that there could be other changes in the offing -- at the legislature, where Republicans managed to take over the House even if they almost lost their major-party label. "I think the two major parties basically thought there could never be a situation where they'd have a candidate who'd get less than 10 percent. They're going to pass some kind of de facto legislation to take away our major-party status," he predicts.

"Everybody likes to change the rules in the middle of the eighth inning," Campbell concludes. "It ain't over until the big lady sings her final note."

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Tom Tancredo's run for Colorado governor proves that shirt happens."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun