Posted Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, at 3:02 PM
I came away from Colorado convinced that Democrats were underrating Tom Tancredo's campaign for governor. This is becoming conventional wisdom. What was a 14-point lead for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper 12 days ago in Public Policy Polling's survey is now a 5-point lead in Fox's survey, as Republican candidate Dan Maes continues to melt down. (Tancredo got into the race as a third party candidate when Maes refused to drop out.)
I'm not surprised. On the trail, I encountered multiple Democratic voters who were going for a straight ticket but would support Tancredo over John Hickenlooper. Why? Because Hickenlooper was too "pro-illegal" as mayor . In the gubernatorial debate I attended, Hickenlooper was clearly on defense on immigration, promising voters that Denver was not a "sanctuary city." And speaking of the debate, Hickenlooper didn't exactly win it. A man of obvious intelligence and nutty professor charisma, Hickenlooper struggled a bit to make his points while Tancredo fired one and two minute talking point bullets. Republican party leaders -- not random voters, who are still split, but party leaders -- are foursquare behind Tancredo.
In a three-way race, Tancredo has a shot. If Maes actually does quit, it is very easy to imagine Tancredo pulling the upset, years after Democrats wrote him off as a fringe politician.