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Colorado governor’s race gets interesting — and I switch candidates

Posted by Richard on October 23, 2010

I caught the tail end of a live debate among Colorado's top three gubernatorial candidates on KDVR tonight. For those of you not in Colorado (or not paying attention), the candidates are:

  • Dan Maes, a political neophyte with lots of baggage. He's a conservative Republican.
  • John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver. He's a liberal Democrat who talks about "social justice."
  • Tom Tancredo, former Republican Congressman. He's the American Constitution Party candidate, and generally described as very conservative (a "right-wing extremist" according to his critics). 

When asked about marijuana, two of those candidates trotted out all the tired old anti-marijuana myths and scare stories and took a hard-line pro-drug-war stance. The other one forcefully argued that marijuana prohibition was a failure and unequivocally supported legalization. Can you guess which candidates embraced the "reefer madness" rhetoric and which was the enlightened, reasonable, and tolerant one? 

Yep, it was the "right-wing extremist" Tancredo who supported a sane approach to pot. Maes and Hickenlooper both sounded like every lame ONDCP ad you've ever seen.

A few months ago, when it became clear that Maes was a deeply flawed candidate and Tancredo jumped into the race, everyone — absolutely everyone — assumed that the race was over, and that Hickenlooper would cruise to an easy victory.

Surprise! The latest independent poll shows a statistical tie: Hickenlooper 44%, Tancredo 43%, Maes 9%. (If Maes gets less than 10% in the election, the GOP becomes a minor party under Colorado law.)

And that poll was taken before Michael Sandoval unearthed a Hickenlooper quote that's gotten a lot of negative attention. The mayor, responding to a question about why the Matthew Shepard Foundation was locating in Colorado instead of Wyoming, said (emphasis added): 

I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.

According to Kelly Maher, the mayor's campaign suffers from an enthusiasm gap (and Hickenlooper himself has lamented his small crowds), while Tancredo events are "wall-to-wall packed" and full of "political energy." Tancredo seems to be surging and may peak at just the right time. If so, he could make history — a Tancredo victory would be perhaps the most stunning event in a year full of surprising political events.

If Tancredo falls short, people can point to Maes as the "spoiler," and for a change we can accuse the die-hard Republicans who voted for him of "wasting their vote" and "helping the Democrat win" — accusations they've hurled at Libertarians in the past. Oh, the delicious irony…

Me? I'd planned to vote for Libertarian Jaimes Brown, but with the race this tight, I've changed my mind. I'm going to support Tancredo. I know him somewhat — he used to speak at Denver LP meetings back when I was active in the party, and we bumped into each other at other liberty-related activities from time to time. I think he's sincere, principled, articulate, and funny. Not at all the angry right-wing ogre some people paint him as. And he definitely has a libertarian streak.

I'm inclined to agree with Rossputin, who explained why he, who wouldn't support McCain, is supporting Tancredo:

First, I believe Tancredo is much more principled than John McCain. I believe he’s a real conservative and, more importantly for me, I believe he has a libertarian streak in there somewhere.  While I’ve said repeatedly that I have a big problem with Tanc’s views on immigration, especially legal immigration, I’m hard pressed to find validity in the argument of some that I should not vote for Tancredo for an office which will have precisely zero impact on legal immigration policy, but which has huge impact on how the state of Colorado will spend its money and tax its citizens.

Second, I was OK not supporting McCain and knowing that was effectively a vote for Obama because my belief was that people need to learn what “Progressivism” really is, who “Progressives” really are – namely dictatorial haters of liberty who think that everyone but them is stupid – in order to finally rebel against it.  It was the “boiling the frog” story; McCain and Obama would both keep us on the path to big government, it’s just that Obama would drive the road so fast that it would scare the passengers whereas McCain would make our ride to our own economic death much more pleasant for the average American and therefore much more likely to be completed.

But Americans have learned that lesson (at least for a little while) and I don’t need a leftist Governor of Colorado to add an extra helping of watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside) to the shit sandwich that is our federal government.  There is no important additional valuable lesson to be learned by electing Hickenlooper.  There is only pain and damage for the state.

Tancredo for Governor. Let's make history! 

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