Tom Tancredo's Plan to Bring Down the Republicans

>Tom Tancredo, former Colorado representative and poster child for nativist zeal, has announced that he plans to split Republican votes in the Colorado governor's race by running on a third-party ticket. Last week, Tancredo issued a well-publicized threat to Republican contenders Scot McInnis and Dan Maes, saying that unless they promised to drop out of the race by Aug. 10 if polls favored Democratic frontrunner John Hickenlooper, Tancredo would file his own candidacy. This morning, he told the Denver Post that he would run as a member of the American Constitution Party.

What's unique about Tancredo's bid is neither his one-issue stance (on immigration) nor his dramatic shift to a third party -- it's his intent to hand the governorship to the Democrats because of his dissatisfaction with the Republican options. True, these options leave something to be desired: Scott McInnis is battling plagiarism allegations and Dan Maes has been fined for reimbursing himself $44,837 for a year's worth of mileage costs. But Tancredo is well aware that if he enters the race, siphoning votes from McInnis and Maes, Colorado voters will most likely elect Hickenlooper, whose immigration platform is nowhere near as radical as Tancredo would like (Hickenlooper called the Arizona law "troubling").

Tancredo clashed with Dick Wadhams, the head of the Colorado Republican Party, on a local radio station this morning. "What's your agenda?" Wadhams asked him. "What are you going to talk about? Impeach Obama and bomb Mecca?"

In some ways, Tancredo is riding the wave of the nation's mood. Voters are leaning toward insurgent, anti-establishment figures, with newcomers Sharron Angle and Rand Paul emerging through the Republican primary process. But rather than pushing the existing party structure to the right, Tancredo is looking to take it down -- a bolder version of the Ralph Nader approach. Whereas Nader insisted that his candidacy did not tip the 2000 election toward Bush, Tancredo would throw a victory party if his rogue campaign ended up putting a Democrat in office.     

  

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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