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On the surface, it may not seem like a fair fight — a coalition led by of some of the state’s richest residents versus a guy who just lost his life savings — but Mr. Tancredo says Republicans can regain ground by taking a page from the Democrats’ playbook.

“If I thought that this was the Rocky Mountain Foundation versus the Colorado Democracy Alliance, I’d surrender,” he said, noting that Colorado Republicans may not be able to match the financial resources of the competition.

However, he said, the Republican Party has a trump card: its conservative principles.

“When you have people with the kind of money the Democrats have — we can’t compete with that,” he said, “but I think our ideas are better. Even if we don’t have the same size microphone, it doesn’t mean we can’t get our message out.”

Seeing how animated he is on the subject of politics, it’s hard to believe Mr. Tancredo was contemplating retirement, even when he thought he had a million bucks in the bank. Pressed on the matter, he admits he never planned to stop working entirely. He just hoped to slow down.

“It’s just that now I have to do it with a lot more fervor,” he said.