DENVER — Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is entering Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial race, bringing a familiar hard line on immigration and drawing an early barb Tuesday from Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.
Colorado Politics reported Tuesday that Tancredo will officially launch his third bid for governor on Wednesday.
A five-term former congressman from Denver’s southern suburbs, Tancredo made his mark as an advocate for strict immigration laws and enforcement and is a contributor to conservative Breitbart News, run by Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump. He said he’d welcome Bannon’s support if he needs it.
Tancredo ran for governor in 2010 and 2014 — the first time as a candidate of the American Constitution Party. He sparred with GOP leaders both times and blamed his 2014 primary loss to former Rep. Bob Beauprez on a spending campaign by the Republican Governors Association. He quit the party again in 2015 but rejoined this year.
Tancredo brings a long-held hard line on immigration issues, and he listed roads and gun rights as among his other priorities. He condemned Republican leaders for staying silent when a Colorado Springs resort said it would not host a 2018 conference organized by VDARE, a national anti-immigration group some have said is a forum for white nationalists.
“We have to anticipate what the establishment will do. It could get ugly,” Tancredo told Colorado Politics. He also said he’s been asking voters if they think he could defeat Polis if it came to that. “So far, it looks like I have a chance,” he said.
Nine Republicans and seven Democrats want to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Polis issued a statement Tuesday saying Tancredo “has spent his career championing hate groups, vilifying immigrants, and seeking divisiveness.”
“We cannot allow Steve Bannon’s toxic brand of hate and white nationalism to take root in Colorado,” Polis said.
The crowded GOP primary features State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, George Brauchler, who prosecuted Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, and businessman Vic Mitchell, among others. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnson and businessman Noel Ginsburg are running on the Democratic side.
Tancredo served in Congress from 1999-2009. He was regional director of the U.S. Department of Education under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and is a former state representative.