Nativist ex-congressman with white nationalist ties announces third run for Colorado governor

Tom Tancredo, a former five-term congressman from Colorado known for his xenophobic anti-immigration policies and ties to white nationalist groups, announced Wednesday he would pursue a third shot at the governor’s mansion in the Centennial State, the Denver Post reported

Tancredo is entering an already crowded Republican primary race in 2018; in 2010 he ran on the American Constitution Party ticket in a three-way race, beating the Republican in a second-place loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper, now term-limited out after eight years in office.

“I think people really are ready for somebody who is not a part of the establishment, and that is certainly yours truly,” Tancredo told the newspaper.

It will come as no shock to longtime Tancredo watchers that his announcement was partially precipitated by the cancellation of a white nationalist event earlier this year.

In August, Tancredo announced he was considering another run for Colorado governor after the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs cancelled a three-day conference planned for April 2018 by the white nationalist hate group VDARE. Tancredo was scheduled to speak at the event, and VDARE’s website has published articles by him — VDARE founder Peter Brimelow has called Tancredo “an American hero.”

“Tancredo considered the Cheyenne Mountain Resort’s move to cancel the April 2018 event an affront to free speech,” the Denver Post reported.

“Not one Republican in this state, no one elected or running for office, has the guts to say, ‘What the hell is going on?’” Tancredo told the newspaper regarding the cancellation of the VDARE conference. “What ever happened with the First Amendment? Have we totally annihilated it in our rush to appease the left?”

Tancredo’s comments came less than two weeks after the violence in Charlottesville at the racist “Unite the Right” rally, where 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed by a white nationalist, among other violent acts committed by racists.

Tancredo was correct about being alone in his criticism of the resort that refused to host the racist convention; even in deeply conservative Colorado Springs, Republican Mayor John Suthers said in a statement to media, “I know I am joined by many Colorado Springs residents when I say I appreciate Cheyenne Mountain Resort’s action to cancel this conference, and its conscientious decision not to bring this group to Colorado Springs.”

Former Trump strategist and Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon, who met with Tancredo in Colorado in September, likely encouraged Tancredo’s jump into the GOP primary for governor. Bannon has been canvassing the country encouraging far-right candidates to challenge mainstream GOP candidates, and was instrumental in Judge Roy Moore’s GOP Senate primary victory in Alabama.

When a Denver Post reporter asked Tancredo if he’d discussed the 2018 governor’s race with Bannon, “Tancredo responded with a winking emoji and the line: ‘come to think of it, I believe it came up,’” the paper reported. Tancredo is also a Breitbart contributor.

Tancredo founded the hardline House Immigration Reform Caucus during his first year in Congress, and advocated for abolishing the Congressional Black Caucus and Hispanic caucuses of both parties during his tenure.

In September of 2006, Tancredo gave a speech in South Carolina at a fundraiser for Americans Have Had Enough!, a conservative nonprofit, but the event was also promoted by the local chapter of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group, as its own.

“At the close of Tancredo’s speech, several men wearing Confederate army uniforms stood up and started to sing the first notes of ‘Dixie,’ the minstrel song turned Confederate anthem about a freed slave pining for plantation life,” The Intelligence Report disclosed afterward. “According to Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinoza, the congressman joined in the singing.”

Tancredo has run for governor in Colorado twice before: when he came in second place on the American Constitution Party ticket, beating the Republican, in 2010, and in 2014, when he lost the GOP primary race by three and a half points. He also ran in the GOP primary for president in 2008, eventually dropping out to support Mitt Romney.

Other candidates running in the Colorado GOP primary for governor in 2018 include the state treasurer, a former state legislator, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, a nephew of Mitt Romney, and possibly the attorney general of the state. Tancredo will be running to the far right of all of them.

Tancredo told the Denver Post that this time part of his platform includes “a proposal that would make immigrant-friendly officials or cities liable to lawsuits if immigrants living illegally in the U.S. were to commit a crime.”

“People know who I am. I have great name recognition,” Tancredo told the newspaper, acknowledging his notoriety cuts both ways. “There are a lot of people out there, I know, who don’t take a like-minded position on things.”

Photo credit: Andy Cross/Denver Post/Getty Images