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Tancredo's Departure From Race Throws Republican Primary Wide Open

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - With 10 months until Colorado elects its next governor, the Republican field lost its best-known candidate. Former Congressman Tom Tancredo has dropped out of the race, throwing the Republican primary wide open.

Tom Tancredo
Tom Tancredo speaks to President Trump supporters in March 2017 at the Colorado State Capitol. (credit: Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Polls show Tancredo was leading among Republicans and had a shot at beating Democratic front-runner Jared Polis in the general election, but Tancredo says he simply can't raise the money needed to mount a formidable campaign.

"I have no money. We haven't been able to raise money. I certainly am not able to personally finance a campaign," Tancredo said.

Tancredo says when he entered the race three months ago he decided if he couldn't raise at least $150,000 by now he would drop out.

He's raised half that, while Polis has raised $1.5 million.

"You want to rationalize it as the candidate -- you want to say it's not me certainly," says Tancredo. "But we looked at four years ago at how much we had raised at exactly the same period of time and it was like three times this amount and so what has happened? It's maybe the bible verse about everything in its time and maybe I'm passed mine."

He insists his hardline positions on immigration are not to blame but he knew he would come under attack and would need a lot of money to defend himself.

"This is more vitriolic and ugly than anything I have ever, ever participated in."

Polis says it's not the money.

"Tom Tancredo and the other Republican candidates are not only wrong on policy, they're wrong on basically understanding how voters make up their mind. Voters don't just vote for people who spend money on politics. If that was the case, Hillary Clinton would be president today. They vote on candidates who offer a vision. That's why we're focused on a positive vision for our state."

But Tancredo says there are Republicans who can raise the money to win in the general election and he says he will eventually endorse a Republican candidate.

"I believe Jared Polis is beatable. I recognize the way the state is going its bluer than it used to be but ... you think I'm a radical or a reactionary -- he makes me look like a moderate. He's beatable but you have to have the resources to do it and a lot of them."

Republican analyst Dick Wadhams agrees, saying Democrats now have a problem.

"Because now they're faced with a front-runner -- Jared Polis -- who's far to the left of the vast majority of Coloradans. Tom Tancredo opens the door for a more mainstream Republican to be the nominee and be elected Governor of Colorado."

Tancredo wouldn't say if he would run for office in the future (this is his third run for governor), but he plans to stay involved in politics.

"I enjoy the arena. My wife is not as crazy about it as I am. She was pretty easy to convince this was the right thing to do."

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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