Seizing upon an ongoing dispute between state Republicans over whether gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo can attend a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans, a spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party gleefully tweaked the opposition Tuesday.
State GOP officials, for their part, shrugged off the jab from across the aisle, with one calling it a “lame attempt” to drive apart Republicans.
Colorado Politics reported last week that Tancredo, a former congressman with a reputation for his hard-line positions on immigration, wasn’t welcome at a forum the Hispanic Republicans were planning for later this month. The stance drew fire from Tancredo and his supporters, who argued the organization had a duty to treat the party’s primary candidates the same.
As it turned out, a sponsor of the event was contributing $1,500 to stage it on the condition Tancredo couldn’t take part – but Tancredo could join the gubernatorial field on stage if others came up with the cash.
Within minutes of the proposal’s airing on a conservative talk radio show last Friday, Colorado Politics reported, Tancredo’s campaign manager offered to donate $100 to the cause and challenged Colorado GOP Chairman Jeff Hays to do the same. Hays swiftly agreed, and Daniel Cole, the party’s spokesman, pledged the same amount.
After a long, holiday weekend, Eric Walker, communications director for the Colorado Democrats, pounced, proposing that Hays and Cole were violating the GOP’s bylaws demanding party officers stay neutral in primary contests. He also linked the other party in the same breath with the divisive Tancredo and – if recent state polling is to be believed – the broadly unpopular Republican president.
“We know that Colorado Republicans are racing to the right to embrace the Trump-Bannon-Tancredo agenda, but this is an extraordinary move,” Walker said in a statement. “The other candidates – all of whom are eager to prove that they are the most right-wing candidate in the field – must be hopping mad about Republican party officials financially backing Tancredo’s appearance.”
To the contrary, Hays told Colorado Politics.
“We’re making contributions towards a forum where all candidates will be welcome,” he said. “That’s the epitome of neutrality.”
Then he trained his words back toward the Democrats.
“As we saw with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Democrats are so accustomed to manipulating primaries that now they’re projecting their own deviousness.”
Cole insisted his spokescounterpart had it backwards.
“Chairman Hays promised Republican voters that under his leadership the state party would remain neutral in primaries and that he would do everything in his power to make sure all Republican candidates are treated fairly. Now he’s putting his money where his mouth is,” he said.
Walker’s press release, Cole added, was a “lame attempt to drive a wedge into the party.”