Despite calls for civility and party unity, Colorado Republicans are renewing old feuds.
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, now a gubernatorial candidate, is trading shots with former state GOP chairman Dick Wadhams, who penned a scathing takedown of Tancredo’s latest run for office in the Denver Post.
Wadhams and Tancredo have feuded as far back as the 2010 election, when Tancredo called on the top Republican candidates for governor — each of whom were tarnished by their own scandals and shortcomings — to step down. When they didn’t, Tancredo ran as a candidate of the American Constitution Party and was excoriated by Wadhams for abandoning the party and threatening to split Republican votes. Tancredo took second place to Democrat John Hickenlooper, with the Republican candidate coming in a distant third.
On Monday, Wadhams renewed the fight in an op-ed, characterizing Tancredo as a polarizing retread who offers no new ideas.
“Tancredo has been running for office, holding office, or working as a federal appointee for most of the past four decades since being elected to the state legislature in 1976,” Wadhams wrote. “As a congressman and failed candidate for president and governor, he had a one-issue agenda of opposing immigration reform.”
He argued that the party needs new blood and applauded Republican Rep. Cory Gardner for challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, calling Gardner a “young, articulate, substantive candidate.”
“Will Republicans embrace the future with candidates such as Gardner for the U.S. Senate, or will the party nominate another failed candidate for governor from the past who will imperil that future?” he wrote.
On Thursday, Tancredo fired back in an op-ed of his own, calling Wadhams “the pied piper of excuses, not victories.”
“Wadhams makes several spurious criticisms of me that betray either an appalling ignorance of my career or a calculated disregard of facts,” he wrote.
“Given his own prominent role in the unfortunate debacle of the 2010 governor’s race, I can understand why he wants to distract attention away from his own failed stewardship of the Colorado Republican Party.”
Tancredo has consistently called for unity among Republicans during a year in which several top Democrats are vulnerable, even going so far as to forego debating the numerous other candidates for governor to avoid any “self-inflicted wounds” that Democrats could use against the Republican nominee.
Wadhams, however, argued that Tancredo’s wounds were inflicted during previous campaigns and they will inevitably be used against him if he’s the nominee.
“Records don’t magically disappear,” Wadhams wrote. “Tancredo would be forced on the defensive due to his history of controversial statements in other failed campaigns.”
Wadhams is worried that could imperil other Republican candidates.
But Tancredo wrote that public displays of disunity are what could doom Republicans.
“I believe — and I think most Colorado Republicans believe — that any Republican can unseat Gov. John Hickenlooper if we come out of the June primary a unified party with a unified message,” he said. “As Republicans, we ought to aim our arrows at the Obama-Hickenlooper record, not at fellow Republicans.”
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