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Mayoral Race: The Tancredo Affect

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Tom Tancredo talks with CBS4's Shaun Boyd (credit: CBS)

Tom Tancredo talks with CBS4’s Shaun Boyd (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Tom Tancredo tends to make any election more fun. Just ask John Hickenlooper.

Love him or hate him, agree with his views, or vehemently disagree, you must admit he brings a whole new level of attention to any race, even one that he seemingly has nothing to do with, like Denver’s Mayoral Race.

If you missed the story, here’s the quick background. At a recent lunch with talk show host Peter Boyles and Patricia Calhoun of Westword, Tom Tancredo said that if he were able to vote in Denver, he’d vote for Michael Hancock.

The Chris Romer campaign, and apparently a variety of unaffiliated 527 groups, have turned that statement into an official endorsement, and have attempted to tie Tancredo’s views on immigration to Michael Hancock.

First of all, when asked for clarification, Tancredo asserted that no, he has not endorsed Hancock. Secondly, Hancock has officially said that he has not sought Tancredo’s endorsement and would refuse to accept it if offered.

REPORT BY CBS4 POLITICAL SPECIALIST SHAUN BOYD: Tom Tancredo In The Middle Of Latest Mayoral Race Dustup

However, these official announcements from Tancredo and Hancock have not stopped the official and unofficial robocalls to voters warning that Denver can’t afford to have a mayor who has been endorsed by Tancredo.

In typical Tancredo fashion, Tom has relished in this surprise power to command headlines in an election where he can’t even place a vote. He is surprised by the reaction and has teased that he’ll be willing to hit the campaign trail for Hancock as soon as he gets a check from the Romer campaign.

Even though this may seem like it’s about Tancredo, it really has little to do with him. What this has to do with is what each campaign feels is the most effective way to convince voters to elect their guy.

For Romer, the strategy is to scare them out voting for Hancock. For Hancock, the strategy is to trust them to be turned off by negativity.

Whatever you may think of either strategy, they are both relying on proven methods for Colorado voters.

Romer only needs to look to Sen. Michael Bennet’s campaign to see that voters, while disgusted by negative ads, still respond to them. If it worked for Bennet, why wouldn’t it work for Romer?

Hancock needs only to look at the success of John Hickenlooper’s campaigns for mayor and governor to see that voters like voting for a nice guy who makes nice campaign commercials. If it worked for Hickenlooper, why wouldn’t it work for Hancock?

The real proof of which theory works better can only be provided by Denver voters on June 7. But Denver voters are carrying much more responsibility on their shoulders than they may realize. If they decide that Romer and his strategy are more effective, we will witness the death of positive campaigns in Colorado.

Positive campaigns are already on life support as it is in Colorado, but if Romer can overcome Hancock’s likability with negative ads over non-endorsements, then future campaigns for all races will take that as a final cue that positive campaigns have no place in Colorado.

For the time being, Tom Tancredo is enjoying the surprising spotlight and power to potentially sway a Denver voter to not vote for a Democrat. But he knows this isn’t about him.

It’s about how voters truly respond to negativity.

Even though Denver voters are the only ones voting, future candidates throughout the entire state of Colorado are watching. Stay tuned, the season finale will be televised on June 7.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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