Former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo, an immigration hardliner who divided Colorado Republicans, lost his party’s nomination for governor to former U.S. Representative Bob Beauprez.
In November, Beauprez, 65, will face Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, a moderate backed by some of the state’s most prominent executives, including Liberty Media Corp. President Greg Maffei.
Beauprez won 30.3 percent of the vote yesterday with 80 percent of precincts counted, according to preliminary results reported by the Associated Press. He entered the contest only in March after fellow Republicans became concerned that Democrats could make a national whipping boy of Tancredo. Consequently, his fundraising lagged behind that of the other candidates and he loaned to his own campaign.
“Tomorrow is straight ahead,” Beauprez told reporters at the Denver Athletic Club, where he celebrated the results. “We’ve been about a general-election campaign from the beginning. This has been about John Hickenlooper and his failure to lead and we’re going to continue that message.”
Beauprez, a Colorado native, buffalo rancher, author and former dairyman, was defeated by Democrat Bill Ritter in the 2006 gubernatorial election, starting a string of eight years with a Democrat in the state’s top office. On his website, Beauprez said “our liberty is being jeopardized by out-of-control government.”
As national Democrats battle to retain the U.S. Senate, party officials sought to have Tancredo elected as a way to tarnish Tea Party supporters seeking to enlarge a beachhead in Congress. They wanted to capitalize on his candidacy as they did when Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, spoke about “legitimate rape,” losing a 2012 Senate bid and providing a lasting talking point for opponents.
Tancredo once suggested President Barack Obama be impeached over his immigration policy among other matters and likened Miami to a “third-world country.”
His endorsements by conservative commentator Michelle Malkin and the El Paso County Tea Party contrast with support Hickenlooper received from business executives in Colorado including Maffei, DaVita HealthCare Partners Chief Executive Officer Kent Thiry, Ball Corp. CEO John Hayes and tw telecom CEO Larissa Herda.
Tancredo also faced Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp. He outraised his competitors, reporting $792,778 through June 11. Gessler collected $534,812, Kopp $266,347 and Beauprez $306,499, according to state records. Beauprez loaned his campaign $389,000.