A Democrat-backed issue committee, Protect Colorado Values, had aired ads and sent out mailers blasting Mr. Beauprez and touting Mr. Tancredo’s record in the final month of the campaign, but the strategy apparently backfired.
Mr. Tancredo said Wednesday that the Democratic tactic actually ended up hurting his campaign after Republicans spread the word about the strategy.
“It hurt. It definitely hurt,” he said. “In a primary, most people who are going to vote are fairly astute. They’re not low-information voters. And everybody could see who that was who was running these ads.”
Mr. Beauprez received 30 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Tancredo with 27 percent. Secretary of State Scott Gessler took 23 percent, while former state Sen. Mike Kopp trailed with 20 percent of the vote.
Mr. Beauprez now faces Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who’s seeking re-election and so far leads all Republicans in the polls.
The state party sent emails warning primary voters about the Democrats’ pro-Tancredo push, while a pro-Beauprez group, Republicans Who Want to Win, ran television ads in the Colorado Springs and Denver media markets.
“Why are national Democrats spending over half-a-million dollars trying to hijack the Republican primary and handpick Tom Tancredo?” said the ads. “Because they know that Tom Tancredo cannot beat John Hickenlooper. They also know that one Republican primary candidate can: Bob Beauprez. And they’ll spend whatever it takes to stop him.”
“I said about 1,000 times during the campaign, I would support whomever the Republican nominee was,” Mr. Tancredo said.
While the outspoken Tancredo has a loyal base of supporters, he was viewed by some Republicans as a potential liability for the state GOP ticket.
Mr. Beauprez lost his 2006 bid for governor against Democrat Bill Ritter, but the Republican was seen as a candidate who would have broader appeal to crossover voters.
“To all of the many good and decent Coloradans who want nothing more than a better chance, and a better future, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer,” Mr. Beauprez said in a post-election email. “A better and stronger Colorado begins tonight.”