On Tuesday, June 24, Summit County Republicans who have not yet cast their ballot will join party members from around the state at the polls to determine who will be the GOP candidate for governor.
The Republican governor’s campaign is the only contested race on the Summit County primary ballot.
Last week the four candidates spoke with the Summit Daily News about their platforms, the message going into the final days of the race, their opponents and their strategy to down incumbent Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper in November and begin repairing the perceived divide between rural and urban Coloradans following the 2013 session of the Colorado State Legislature.
Last week Tom Tancredo of Pueblo said this year’s Republican primary for governor has been the most interesting and challenging of his career, which is saying something considering his political background spans nearly four decades.
Tancredo’s first foray into the public service arena came in 1976 when he was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. He later served in the U.S. Department of Education under the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations before representing from 1999 to 2009 Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.
In 2008, Tancredo made a run for president of the United States, but dropped out to assist with Mitt Romney’s campaign. In 2010, Tancredo represented the Constitution Party in his bid for Colorado governor, coming in second place with nearly 37 percent of the popular vote, but ultimately losing to current Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Tancredo returned to the Republican Party for his 2014 campaign, but has come under fire from members of his own party for distancing himself from traditional conservative values. Tancredo said that was the point from the outset.
“I am a maverick and I do have my problems within my own party, but I also offer people a candidacy that certainly isn’t traditional,” Tancredo said. “If we run a traditional candidate and a traditional campaign, we will have a traditional outcome. We will lose.”
Although Tancredo touts himself as a nontraditional conservative, he and his opponents share similar philosophies about protecting constitutional rights — particularly the Second Amendment — state’s rights and eliminating regulatory burdens. But Tancredo takes it a step further, saying individuals, in addition to businesses, also fall under the cloud of unnecessary government regulation.
“My campaign platform basically revolves around our slogan; ‘Freedom to live your life,’” Tancredo said. “Essentially, that boils down to me wanting to control my life and no one else’s. I want government out of it to the greatest extent possible.”
If nominated Tuesday for a second showdown with Hickenlooper in the fall, Tancredo said it wouldn’t be enough for him to simply focus on eliminating the red tape in Colorado. He plans to also take on burdensome regulations handed down to Coloradans from the federal level.
In addition to Obamacare, Tancredo cited a recent directive from President Barack Obama to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency to set emissions standards for coal-fired power plants. Tancredo said the president doesn’t have the unilateral authority to make those decisions, saying the Clean Air Act guarantees states the right to participate in the process.
“I realize a lot of your readers in Summit County would assume to just shut it all down, but Colorado can’t afford that,” Tancredo said. “We need coal because it is an important fuel and it keeps costs down; or at least it did before renewable energy mandates.”
Tancredo thinks he has the best chance at unseating Hickenlooper in November, saying he would bring a new brand of leadership to the state’s highest office.
“I really don’t know what his (Hickenlooper’s) problem is, but he just doesn’t seem that interested in governing,” Tancredo said. “Being a governor takes leadership, which means rallying people around a common goal even if it’s not an important issue to everyone.
“I understand the concerns of people throughout the state and I understand their points of view better than people who are anti-gun or think environmental conservation is a religion.”