Two Colorado Republicans File Suit To Throw Tancredo Off November Gubernatorial Ballot

tancredo3In July, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) lambasted then-Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Dan Maes as an “unelectable” disaster in the making. Unwilling to watch the GOP blow an opportunity to defeat Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper, Tancredo jumped in as a third-party candidate, believing he presented the best opportunity for a conservative victory.

But Tancredo’s third-party candidacy is garnering him anything but love from the conservative base. Immediately after announcing his entry, Colorado Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams and 21 state Tea Party leaders pummeled Tancredo for siphoning votes away from a potential GOP victory. Constitutional conservatives of the Vail Valley 9.12 Project in Colorado later joined in decrying Tancredo for pursuing the type of candidacy that “guarantees the re-election of liberals” and demanded that he “drop out of the race and come back to the conservative party.”

Fed up with his obstinacy, two Colorado Republican voters upped the ante yesterday by filing suit in Denver District court to prevent Tancredo from being placed on the November ballot. The lawsuit, filed by Colorado Republican Party treasurer Richard Westfall on their behalf, states that both Tancredo and his running-mate Pat Miller switched their party affiliation from the GOP to the American Constitution Party too late, violating state and party bylaws and rules:

“The goal is to make sure the American Constitution Party follows its own rules when it comes to ballot selection,” said Richard Westfall, attorney for the plaintiffs. “This is an important precedent to be set. You can’t allow a particular member of any political party be affiliated with a major political party and then at the eleventh hour just switch over and be the governor candidate for another party.

“Under their bylaws it says you have to be a member of the party, the ACP, for at least six months prior to being nominated, but they [] can waive that,” said Richard Kaufman, the attorney for Tancredo’s campaign.

But the party’s vacancy committee, made up of five members, cannot validate a candidate on its own, as it did with Tancredo’s candidacy — only the party’s state assembly has that ability, the suit alleges.

“Tancredo and Miller’s last-minute nominations are the result of, in the Tancredo campaign’s own words, ‘inter-party squabling’,” the lawsuit states. “Tancredo’s ACP nomination is nothing more or less than a failed gambit to force the duly nominated Republican candidate for Governor, Dan Maes, to withdraw his candidacy.

Colorado law says that a nominee cannot be “registered as a member of a major political party for at least twelve months prior to the date of the nomination” unless the ACP bylaws indicate otherwise. Tancredo switched in July and Miller switched in August and nothing in the ACP bylaws supersede Colorado law, according to the lawsuit.

Tancredo’s campaign manager Bay Buchanan pointed out that the Secretary of State Bernie Buescher (D) already certified the general election ballot last Friday. In a statement to the Denver Daily News, Buchanan said, “Our attorneys have reviewed the recent complaint by a disgruntled Maes voter related to this certification and are confident that the courts will find no grounds on which to overturn the decision by the one individual with authority to make such decisions.”

While both plaintiffs emphasized that they were taking action “in their individual capacity only, and not on behalf of any candidate,” both voters “have contributed to Maes’ campaign.” The case is set to be heard Monday. Despite the lawsuit, Buescher’s office “continues to print ballots with Tancredo’s name on it.” Wadhams said that while “he does not believe Tancredo’s name will be removed from the ballot because of the lawsuit,” he will certainly “watch with interest.”

Despite the backlash from the Colorado GOP, Tancredo has outraised Maes 4 to 1, pulling in almost as much funding in August as Maes has raised in total. And in a further blow to the state GOP, Chairman of the Republican Governors Association Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) said today that RGA will no longer “throw good money” to “badly damaged nominee” Dan Maes, adding that “we don’t give to sure losers.”

As conservative blog Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey points out, “the RGA move appears to send an official Amityville Horror message [to Maes] … get out.” If Maes heeds calls to pull out of the race and the state GOP replaces him with former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, that move “might convince Tom Tancredo to withdraw his independent bid.”