Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tom Tancredo for Governor

Tom Tancredo is clearly the best candidate for Governor of Colorado, but some of my very conservative, less conservative, and generally Republican friends have gotten stuck on some misinformation which keeps them locked into supporting Republican candidate Dan Maes.

I've expressed my view on voting for principles over party before, in The Folly of the "Big Tent." Basically, political parties give your principles voice and strength only so long as your party actually follows those principles. If they've stopped following your principles, then voting third party is the ONLY way to make your voice heard, even if it means "losing" the election cycle by causing your preferred party to lose. Next time around, the party will be smarter about what positions they take, and considering how humdrum support for the GOP was from its own "base" in 2006 and 2008, contrasted against how strong many of the GOP candidates are this time around, this pretty much proves my point. I.e. by not voting GOP, conservatives "fixed" the GOP (to an extent).

The fact that Tom Tancredo is a "third party" candidate (nevermind that he's polling three times higher than the Republican candidate for governor) should not scare people off. The American Constitution Party is a party that has always stood for values the GOP has always said it stood for (during election time anyway). The fact is, none of us really know what Dan Maes believes, because we know for a fact he's lied (if you doubt this, see below), and so we're never sure if what he says he believes is really what he believes. This is especially clear since his statements on abortion, gun control, immigration policy, etc. have changed over time.

There are two major sticking points keeping Dan Maes supporters from giving up on him and turning to Tom Tancredo, despite the fact that Maes is unlikely to get more than 10% of the vote, in the final tally. Those are 1) partisan/factional investment in the candidate you supported from the beginning, and 2) distrust of Tom Tancredo. I'm going to try to defuse both of these reasons.

Many Republican voters believe in a principle of "always vote Republican." Talk-show host Mike Rosen is the biggest pusher of this concept, which of course I disagree with. Compounding this is this year's Tea Party movement, and its many passionate supporters (who I generally agree with), who believe the Tea Party "made" Dan Maes, and so if Maes loses, so does the Tea Party. The problem with this is that the candidate who the GOP nominated, and who the Tea Party pushed, is NOT the same candidate we thought he was when we supported him. This can be seen by comparing his contradictory statements on the issues, examining his squirrelly campaign spending and hidden books, and understanding his falsified or exaggerated resume. It can be further illustrated by the fact that most of Maes' most vehement critics are his former supporters, including some who volunteered for him (particularly campaign treasurers!), or worked on his staff.

Whether his side or the police chief's side is correct, with regard to his brief record as a police officer in Kansas, it's clear that Maes was not the "Serpico" law-enforcing star he made himself out to be. At best, he worked undercover in a non-dangerous relationship with small time crooks. At worst, he was collaborating with organized crime and tipped them off to a police investigation. I've read the relevant documents on Talking Points Memo and I can establish no "proof" one way or another. Maes also claimed to be a successful businessman, which also appears to have been an exaggeration or falsification. He had good years and he had bad years. And no one is quite sure how he's paying for his house in Evergreen, which brings us to Freda Poundstone...

Freda Poundstone says she gave Dan Maes $300+/- cash because he asked her to help him pay his mortgage, which was behind. Many Maes supporters suggest that Freda Poundstone is a longtime politician, and a Tancredo supporter (though she was earlier a strong Maes supporter), and therefore her word cannot be trusted. Here's my refutation: No one has to believe Freda's account in order to know that Maes lied to all of us. Dan Maes himself admitted he received a substantial sum of money in cash (around $300) from Freda. Whether you believe Freda is telling the truth or not, Maes acknowledged she gave him money, which means either he was lying to us about being a successful businessman, and instead he needed help with his mortgage, or he accepted an illegal cash donation and then didn't report it on his campaign finance filings -- a double illegality. Take your pick -- Maes is either a liar, or a crook. Ironically, he looks better if Freda is telling the truth!

I, personally, was a Dan Maes supporter until after the primary. I voted for him, and I didn't switch automatically when Tom Tancredo entered the race. Once I concluded Dan Maes had lied to me (and especially once he appointed Tambor Williams as his running mate -- someone who I like personally, but whose position on abortion differs from mine), I could only start to believe at least some of the many other charges of resume falsification and financial irregularity were true also. I know Dan Maes lied to me, so I don't trust him, and I don't understand how anyone else still can!

The other objection is some people don't trust Tom Tancredo, and think he's a closet liberal. I laughed the first time I heard this. I got concerned when I saw some of the charges made by Maes supporters about Tancredo, and I looked into them. Some of these charges didn't make me happy. But overall, Tom Tancredo's record is consistently -- even stunningly! -- conservative. I have no worries that Tancredo is a "tax and spend" liberal, as some of these people charge. I was right the first time -- the charge is laughable.

Everyone who's been around Colorado politics for long knows that Tom Tancredo and Bob Schaffer were our most conservative representatives in Washington DC for many years -- they generally voted the same -- and until Doug Lamborn got to Congress Tancredo probably had Colorado's most conservative voting record ever! The National Taxpayer's Union measures fiscally conservative votes in Congress, and rates Congressmen on their votes. Tancredo's worst rating ever was in 2008, when he got 77% from NTU (which still ranked him as the 51st most conservative member of Congress!). In his 10 years in DC, Tancredo was ranked for 5 years as one of the top 5 MOST conservative Congressmen in the whole House of Representatives (i.e. in 2001 he was ranked 3rd out of 435!). Colorado's local affiliate of the NTU is the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT). In 1977-78, when Tancredo was in the legislature, he rated 100% with CUT. He was always in the top 15 most fiscally conservative legislators, and many of those other legislators who have earned top rankings from CUT over the years are supporters of Tom Tancredo. At least 2 members of CUT's board of directors are listed on Tom's endorsement page. I can find no CUT board members on Dan Maes' endorsement list. The charge that Tancredo isn't conservative enough is silly. A few bad choices (which only dropped him to 77% with the NTU) cannot outweigh his years of fiscally conservative leadership.

Lastly, some question Tancredo's ethics for having presented us with a confusing range of political choices this year. First he was in, then he was out, then he was in again... Many fault him for not winning through the Republican primary, but I believe I understand what happened. He was not being "underhanded" as many charge. He was doing what he felt was the best choice at each moment. I'm no close friend of Tom's, though I did get to spend some very revealing personal time with him in Philadelphia in 2000, which made me really like and trust him. But I've had occasion to speak with him in private at different times, and it's only reinforced my feelings of trust in him. With that insight as a guide, here is what I believe happened, to explain his seemingly odd behavior:

Tancredo didn't want either Scott McInnis or Maes as Governor (he apparently picked up things about Maes early on that others like me didn't recognize -- either that he wasn't qualified or had serious problems in his background). Tancredo figured he and Josh Penry would split the conservative vote (Penry was the conservative "golden child" back then, though his luster has been tarnished by his own behavior during the 2010 campaign), so Tancredo dropped out to avoid being a spoiler. Shortly afterward (to my memory), Penry was also talked into leaving. Having no better choices, Tancredo backed a qualified but not-so-conservative McInnis after getting certain promises from him, because he figured he was better than an unqualified Maes. McInnis pressured him to attack third parties to prevent defections (i.e. a well-publicized article where Tancredo said the Tea Party shouldn't mount a third-party challenger), and Tancredo went along because he hadn't considered third parties viable. Then the plagiarism scandal hit McInnis hard, and it looked like Maes might pull off the nomination. Tancredo offered to rejoin the Republican primary, but since most of us still trusted Maes, no one listened. And so Tancredo went to the Constitution Party. In the end, Tancredo may have been the only one who saw all this coming, and I believe he decided unselfishly at every point.

Tancredo helped found the Independence Institute -- one of the nation's foremost watchdogs on fiscal and civil liberties issues -- and served as its president. Tom Tancredo is a reliable fiscal conservative, and has been his whole career in politics. One reason GOP insiders don't like him is he often refused to "play ball" when the President or GOP leadership asked him to vote for Republican-sponsored spending packages. Tancredo is also more trustworthy than Maes on issues protecting a Right to Life for the unborn, because both Tancredo and his running mate have endorsed Amendment 62, the Personhood Amendment.

We need Tom Tancredo's kind of leadership at the State Capitol. I urge all conservatives and all Republicans to vote for him, and not Dan Maes.