Colorado: White House Bid End of the Road for Tancredo

Posted October 29, 2007 at 6:23pm

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) revealed late Sunday that he will retire from his 6th district seat at the end of his current term regardless of how his upstart presidential bid turns out.

Tancredo, keeping a promise to announce his plans for his House seat after the last Colorado Rockies game of the Major League Baseball season, spoke with a Rocky Mountain News reporter by telephone on Sunday night, shortly after the Rockies were eliminated from the World Series by the Boston Red Sox.

Throughout his tenure, Tancredo has been known for his outspoken views on the need for the federal government to crack down on illegal immigration.

And in fact, Tancredo spokesman T.Q. Houlton said the Congressman had decided to retire largely because he feels as though the need to address illegal immigration has finally become a priority of the Congress.

“He feels that over the past 10 years he brought illegal immigration to the limelight, and now there are enough people on board that he can pass the baton on to them,” Houlton said.

Tancredo’s retirement leaves House Republicans with another open seat to protect in the 2008 cycle. The news is sure to buoy Democrats as they seek to expand their House majority.

However, the strong Republican bent of the Congressman’s suburban-Denver 6th district should keep the seat safe from a Democratic takeover and all but ensure victory in the general election for the eventual GOP nominee — especially considering the fact that 2008 is a presidential year.

Tancredo’s worst performance since ascending to the House in 1998 occurred in 2000, when he won re-election with 54 percent of the vote. President Bush won the district with 60 percent of the vote in 2000 and 2004.

The heated GOP primary that is likely to ensue to replace Tancredo could feature state Sens. Ted Harvey and Tom Wiens and small-business owner Wil Armstrong, the son of former Sen. Bill Armstrong (R-Colo.).

Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman (R) also is viewed as a strong potential candidate. But GOP activists in the Centennial State might prefer that he remain in his current position. Coffman’s term runs through 2010, and if he ascended to Congress in 2008 Gov. Bill Ritter (D) presumably would appoint a Democrat to replace him.

Meanwhile, Harvey and Wiens both appear well-positioned to vie for the nomination to replace Tancredo. Their state Senate districts include separate though significant chunks of the 6th Congressional district.

“Ted [Harvey] and Tom [Wiens] both are very serious, legitimate candidates,” a knowledgeable Colorado Republican told Roll Call last week. “But I think Wil [Armstrong] is the intriguing wild card that could surprise a lot of people. I don’t think there’s a frontrunner in it.”

— David M. Drucker