Monday, September 27, 2010

Turning the Republican into a Third Party Candidate

There's a great story going on in the Colorado governor's race with regards to third parties.  When Tom Tancredo jumped into the race as the nominee of the American Constitution Party, he was polling around even with Dan Maes, the Republican nominee.  That's certainly impressive, and attributable to Tancredo's own widespread name recognition throughout Colorado (and Maes' relative lack thereof).  Given what usually happens with third party candidates, one would generally expect that Tancredo's support would wane and Maes' would increase as the campaign brought Republican voters back to their own party's nominee.

That hasn't happened.  Indeed, recent polling suggests that Tancredo's share of the polls is increasing at Maes' expense.  Tancredo's also massively outpacing Maes in fundraising.  During the first two weeks of September, Maes raised less than $15,000, most of which went to pay off a campaign finance violation penalty.

Why is this happening?  This strikes me as an endorsement story.  There's a good reason Tom Tancredo has never won an election outside of Colorado's 6th congressional district.  He's extremely conservative and bombastic.  That's normally toxic to mainstream party elites, who have generally avoided backing him in statewide (or presidential) runs.

But now GOP party elites are trying to get Dan Maes, whom they view as a colossal mistake, to drop out of the race, and they're doing so by backing Tancredo.  The list of Tancredo endorsers includes relatively mainstream party folks like Bob Beauprez (the GOP's nominee for governor in '06), Josh Penry (who dropped out of the governor's race last year), and former state Rep. Rob Witwer.  Their backing is an indicator to other Republicans that it's safe to like Tancredo this year.

(h/t ColoradoPols)


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I'm very curious to see what the GOP Reorg will look like in Feb '11 after the election is over. The fratricidal battles over disloyalty to the party from Tea Party supporters v. idiocy by other Republicans are going to be absolutely brutal.

The fight for the soul of the Republican Party is in full swing, and it isn't obvious how the general election results, whatever they may be will influence the outcome.

How does the establishment wing of the GOP leverage a Tancredo second place finish over Maes on an ACP banner into restoration of their place as leaders of the Republican party, possibly accompanied by the downgrading of the GOP to minor party status, and probably accompanied by the elevation of the ACP to major party status.

Wasn't the ACP supposed to be the homeland of the crazies?

Short of an across the board defeat, it is hard to see how the Tea Party could see the results as a defeat. They will take credit for any progress that they make.

Is Tea Party class anger sustainable? Does the Colorado GOP establishment actually have a plan?

Seth Masket said...

The interpretation of this race really depends on a lot of others. If Buck wins and the GOP takes one or both houses of Congress, there will be enough good news for them that they can dismiss the CO Gov race (and maybe Delaware) as small prices to pay for a very fired up base. And the governor's race has been a pretty freakish ordeal. I imagine the party will somehow live with the outcome or at least disregard it.

I do wonder about the long term costs of backing Tancredo. At some point, those who are backing him now may be expected to own some of his racist statements. But those don't seem to be getting much attention today.

Anonymous said...

Ha great article. Real Accurate. Completely Non-Bias....Right.