Tom Tancredo changes registration from unaffiliated to Republican ‘just in case’ he decides to run for governor

Author: Ernest Luning - September 1, 2017 - Updated: September 1, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo takes in the view at the Independence Institute's annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, at Kiowa Creek Sporting Club in Bennett. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo takes in the view at the Independence Institute’s annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, at Kiowa Creek Sporting Club in Bennett. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

If former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo decides to jump into Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial primary, there’s one step he won’t have to take. Tancredo changed his registration from unaffiliated to Republican two weeks ago “just in case,” he told Colorado Politics, although he said he’s still weighing whether to get in the race.

After what he described as “years of watching the downward spiral of the Party of Lincoln and Reagan into the Party of Democrat Lite,” Tancredo announced he was quitting the GOP nearly two years ago. “I cannot any longer defend this transparently dishonest charade called the Republican Party,” the one-time presidential candidate and five-term congressman wrote in an online column.

Colorado Politics was first to report that Tancredo was considering a run for governor in next year’s GOP primary because he was angry at the silence of Republican officials and candidates after a Colorado Springs resort canceled a scheduled conference of VDARE, an organization that describes itself as devoted to immigration reform but that critics call a hate group with ties to white nationalists.

“If I decide to run (for governor), I won’t have to be drafted,” Tancredo told Colorado Politics in an email after the Cheyenne Mountain Resort cancelled the April conference, where Tancredo had been scheduled to speak. “I am so mad at the Republicans who are presently in office or in the hunt for not speaking out in defense of free speech that it won’t take much to push me over the line. This Colorado Springs thing is infuriating.”

He added, “[T]he silence of the Republicans in this state was appalling. Not one came to (the) defense of liberty.”

Tancredo has run for governor twice before — on the American Constitution Party ticket in 2010 and in the GOP primary in 2014. He lost to Democrat John Hickenlooper in his third-party run but ran 25 points ahead of Republican nominee Dan Maes. After rejoining the GOP in 2011, Tancredo came in second behind former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez in the four-way 2014 primary. (Hickenlooper beat Beauprez in the fall election and is term-limited next year.)

There could be a dozen Republicans running for governor if Tancredo gets in the race. Seven candidates have made their campaigns official — 18th Judicial District Attorney Brauchler, former investment banker Doug Robinson, entrepreneur and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, Colorado Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and activist Jim Rundberg. Republicans who have said they’re considering a run include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, motivational speaker and business owner Barry Farah and former CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham, who finished second in last year’s U.S. Senate primary.

Four Democrats are running in their party’s gubernatorial primary — U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and businessman Noel Ginsburg, while Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a former top executive with health care giant Kaiser Permanente, has said she’s exploring whether to run.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.