Republican Field to Replace Tancredo Begins to Line Up

With Rep. Tom Tancredo announcing he will not seek re-election in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, the scuttlebutt begins about which candidate will rise to the top to secure this safe Republican seat. According to the Rocky Mountain News, former Lt. Governor Jane Norton and former State Senate President John Andrews will stick to the sidelines, as well as radio talk show host Dan Caplis (who, ironically, like Tancredo, appears to be eyeing a 2010 run against U.S. Senator Ken Salazar).

On the other hand, two state legislators – Sen. Ted Harvey (who like Tancredo once worked for my employer, the Independence Institute) and Sen. Tom Wiens (who may sidestep a chance at a career on the big screen) – look to be entering the fray, along with Wil Armstrong (son of the highly reputable former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong) and current Secretary of State Mike Coffman (whose candidacy is causing the Dead Governors to lick their lips at the prospect of a Democrat Secretary of State).

Meanwhile, Abes Guy at Rocky Mountain Politics begins to dissect the roles and leanings of heavy-hitting conservative players like the Club for Growth and Christian Coalition in the upcoming internecine contest. Unlike several other political races in recent Colorado history, there’s virtually no chance a vicious, hard-fought primary would surrender the seat to the Democrats. But the last thing Republicans in this state should be looking for is a repeat of last year’s Lamborn-Crank showdown in the 5th Congressional.

Stay tuned to Mount Virtus and other outlets of the center-right Colorado blogosphere to see who is getting an inside track in this race for the 2008 primary. Let the competition begin!


  1. Uncle Sam says

    There’s a strong feeling inside the Te Republican Party that Coffman’s running would really hurt the GOP since the Democrat Gov Ritter will appoint his replacement as SoS. Coffman may not care because the GOP has done him no favors, but the activists are very much against him running. Coffman has hired Phaseline Strategies (Sean Tonner) as a general consultant, which will help with a primary. However, Tonner’s close ties to former Governor Bill Owens won’t help with GOP activists, and CO is a caucus state. On the plus side, Coffman is the only statewide GOP official that won in 2006 in a year that saw the Dems sweep the field in Colorado; he’s an Iraq war vet, having taken a leave of absence from Treasurer to help run elections in Iraq.

    There was something strange about that though. Coffman was running for Governor (and stood a good chance of winning) when all of a sudden he bowed out and left for Iraq. Some have assumed that Governor Owens had naked pictures of him with sheep or something: Owens, the story goes, told him to let his boy Bob Beauprez run and if Coffman was a good boy they’d help him run in the future. The Tonner hiring tends to confirm it this story. It won’t help Coffman much with the activists. They’ll look at him as sold out. They’ll wonder if it means Coffman will endorse Owens when Owens tries his political rehabilitation in a run for Senate. The answer is probably yes.

    And it will bring the number of political lives ruined by association with Owens to five. Bob Schaffer, Pete Coors, Mark Hillman and Bob Beauprez have all been hurt by Owens. In Schaffer’s case it was because Owens opposed him, but the rest made deals with Owens that killed them politically. If you wonder about the state of Colorado GOP politics you only have to look at the lives ruined by Owens to get the picture of why we are weak. The only way Coffman survives is if he runs unopposed.

    As to Will Armstrong, he has not done much in politics and some think Bill Armstrong’s day has come and gone. There’s a considerable portion of voters in Colorado that have no memory of Senator Bill Armstrong. However the Armstrong family does have the money and anyone who can come up with a million bucks or two is a legitimate candidate. But one would have to see how Will does campaigning first before evaluating how legitimate a candidate he is.

    Harvey is a first term Senator that just won his seat in 2006. It was the only contested election that he has run in despite being in the legislature for over six years. His numbers were good in the Senate election, but he faced kind of weak opposition in a political newcomer and he benefited from endorsements from Tancredo and House Minority Leader Mike May (who also lives in Douglas County and who appointed Harvey his Asst minority leader during the primary to puff him). Harvey will not have these advantages in a run for Congress. This time he’ll be on his own, kind of.

    Harvey’s campaign advisors will be the same Christian rightists that have messed up Congressman Doug Lamborn’s rather bright prospects. This will include the Hotaling brothers. Mutt and Jeff are their names. Lamborn almost lost his primary fight last time around because of some questionable advertising by this group. He may even lose this time around. That’s saying a lot about a sitting congressman, even if a freshman. One political web site opined that you’d almost have to try to raise as little money as Lamborn has in his reelection bid.

    The Hotaling’s will run a Harvey campaign that will include fundraising letters sent by semi-fictitious organizations like “Coloradoans Against Gun Control” that will rail against the other candidates who didn’t return surveys saying they were against gun control. For the most part these organizations will be drop-box operations controlled by the Hotaling brothers. Where the money will come from to pay for it is the interesting question. Harvey may have survived this type of thing during a state Senate campaign, but in a congressional race the lights will be much brighter. Harvey will melt. As one political consultant said: “Harvey will try to campaign by saying the other candidates aren’t conservative enough. He’ll try to create daylight between himself and others on issues. The only daylight he’ll expose is the daylight shining out of each of his ears.”

    Assuming Wiens runs, he should be the favorite. Although his senate district doesn’t cover all of the 6th Congressional, he’s well-known in the district. He was the GOP nominee for State Treasurer and lost narrowly to Roy Romer. He also lost a narrow congressional race in the general election for a Democrat Western-slope district. He knows how to win GOP primaries. He has more money than any candidate, plus he knows how to raise lots of cash. His rolodex is a Who’s Who of Colorado contributors. He recently raised over $700,000 in a single night for Children’s Hospital by hosting a fundraiser at his picturesque ranch in Sedalia, Colorado. He has no voting record to attack, being a conservative thought leader and right on the issues as far as the GOP is concerned. The only thing they’ll attack is some rather lose allegations about financial improprieties made by folks who mismanaged $5 million for him in 2001, got fired for doing so and then sued him. These folks were hoping Wiens would settle the case, because at the time Wiens was running for State House and they thought it would embarrass him. Wiens told them to stick it. The case was litigated and the courts found in favor of Wiens.

    So in this order it’s: Wiens, Coffman, Armstrong, Harvey. Plus one or two like Nancy Spence who think the conservatives will beat each other up and leave the liberal to scoop up the prize.

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