Former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo made good on his high-noon ultimatum Monday by announcing that he would enter the Colorado governor’s contest as a third-party candidate, essentially dashing the GOP’s last hopes of winning the race.
Mr. Tancredo still must file papers with the Colorado secretary of state and register as a member of the American Constitution Party. Even so, the mere announcement of his candidacy appeared to doom any chance of victory for likely Republican nominee Scott McInnis while ensuring victory for the likely Democratic pick, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Mr. Tancredo had said he would become a third-party candidate unless Mr. McInnis and businessman Dan Maes agreed to drop out of the race the day after the Aug. 10 primary. If a nominee withdraws after the primary, the party may appoint a replacement.
The frustration simmering among Colorado Republicans was evident Monday morning when state Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams got into a shouting match with Mr. Tancredo on a morning talk show on KOA-AM. Both men hurled accusations and called each other “liars.”
Mr. Wadhams blasted Mr. Tancredo’s integrity, noting that he had broken a term-limits promise during his congressional tenure. He described the former congressman’s political agenda as undisciplined and even radical.
“Whats your agenda? What are you going to talk about? Impeach Obama and bomb Mecca?” Mr. Wadhams asked.
It’s been a long, strange two weeks for Colorado Republicans. In mid-July, Mr. McInnis was leading in the polls and GOP hopes for winning back the governorship were high. Then Mr. McInnis became embroiled in a plagiarism scandal that resulted in at least two newspapers calling for him to withdraw from the race.
Mr. McInnis has refused, saying he’s “in it to win it,” but political strategists agree that he has little chance of eking out a victory. Meanwhile, Mr. Maes has been fined for campaign-finance violations.
In a statement Monday, Mr. McInnis said little about the Tancredo candidacy but referred to the Monday noon deadline, which was when Mr. Tancredo had asked Mr. McInnis and Mr. Maes to agree to drop out of the race Aug. 11.
“Those looking for a deadline should focus on the only real deadline: August 10 at 7 p.m. This is when the polls close, the people have voted and their votes are counted. That’s the way the system works in a free society,” Mr. McInnis said. “Colorado Republicans will speak with their votes on that day, and I will abide by their decision.”