DENVER–Colorado Republicans worried about the prospect of a bruising 2014 gubernatorial primary race received some reassurance Saturday from former Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Speaking at the Western Conservative Summit, Tancredo pledged to refrain from making negative comments about his primary opponents and to throw his unstinting support behind the party’s pick–even if it’s not him.
“I believe my opponents are all honorable men and I would never say anything to the contrary during this fight because a food fight is not what we need for this primary,” said Tancredo.
Tancredo and state Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) weren’t on the schedule at the three-day conference at the Denver Hyatt Regency, but they each received two minutes to make a pitch to the annual event’s estimated 2,000 attendees.
“How many of you are ready to have a conservative governor with experience and leadership to lead the state of Colorado?” said Brophy. “I’m Greg Brophy and I’m running for governor of a free Colorado.”
Speculation is rife that as many as five Republicans could run for the 2014 nomination, drawn by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s perceived vulnerabilities on issues like gun control and the death penalty.
Both Brophy and Tancredo have announced their candidacies. Other Republicans looking at the race include Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, and former state Sen. Mike Kopp.
The worst-case scenario for Republicans would be a vicious primary battle that leaves the victor too broke or beaten-up to put up a fight against Hickenlooper. Tancredo said his top priority was to “oust the incumbent” by supporting the primary winner.
“If it’s you, you’ve got my 100 percent support,” said Tancredo, referring to Brophy.
Brophy referred to past govenors Roy Romer and Bill Owens as leaders “who were actually interested in the problems of the day and had solutions for them, with a vision for Colorado that is not TBD.”
He was referring to Hickenlooper’s rebranding initiative, called TBD or “to be decided.”
“If you’d like to have a governor who’s conservative, that’s a great leader for the state of Colorado, who can actually put together a 51 percent coalition, save this state, defend our Second Amendment, do the right thing on the death penalty, then I ask you to take a look at joining our team,” said Brophy.
The summit, sponsored by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, is expected to release the results Sunday of a straw poll on the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
A former five-term congressman, Tancredo placed second to Hickenlooper as a third-party candidate in 2010. Republican candidate Dan Maes came in a distant third.
“If I’m governor, will I push back against a progressive agenda? Absolutely,” said Tancredo. “And if I’m governor, will there be heat in the kitchen? Undeniably. But I confirm this for you: I can take the heat.”