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Racist Extremist Tancredo Surges in Colorado Governor's Race

If the latest Rasmussen survey of likely voters is to be believed, in the Colorado governor's race, anti-immigrant gadfly Tom Tancredo is polling within four points of the frontrunner, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. The Rasmussen poll shows Hickenlooper at 42 percent, Tancredo at 38 percent and Republican Dan Maes at just 12 percent. When Tancredo jumped into the Colorado gubernatorial race, most political analysts simply rolled their eyes. After all, this was the guy who, at the Tea Party Nation convention in Memphis earlier this year, advocated a return to literacy tests for voter registration, a practice that was used and abused for decades in the South to keep African-Americans from the voting booth. And this was the guy who called Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor "a racist" who should be "disqualified" from serving on the bench, and a member of "a Latino KKK." The most Tancredo could hope for, the thinking went, was to be a spoiler by splitting the right-wing vote between himself and Maes, the Tea Party-backed candidate who won the G.O.P. nomination in an upset. If you think his rhetoric is scary, consider this: To make his third-party bid, Tancredo signed on with the American Constitution Party, which despite its secular-sounding name, is a party based upon the principles of Christian Reconstructionism, whose adherents seek to have biblical law -- including the execution of LGBT people and the stoning of adulterers -- instituted as the law of the land. (Both Rand Paul and Sharron Angle have links to the Constitution Party, as we reported here.) Pat Buchanan, when he threatened to bolt the Republican Party in 1996 after winning the New Hampshire presidential primary and a nice slice of delegate pie in other states, openly flirted with the party Tancredo now finds himself in. (Back in Buchanan's political heyday, it was known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party.) Tancredo has long been allied with Buchanan, who supported Tancredo's presidential bid for the G.O.P. nomination in 2008. As she did for her brother in 1996, Bay Buchanan served as Tancredo's presidential campaign manager. Even as he surges on the Constitution Party ballot, Tancredo now seems to be seeking some distance from the party's extremistplatform, which calls for an end to public education and all public "welfare" programs -- including Medicare and Social Security -- and the banning of abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. The platform's wording of its plank on HIV/AIDS prevention suggests that gay sex is "perverted." "My joining the American Constitution Party this year is a marriage of convenience not of love," Tancredo told the Colorado Independent today. "This is not some [philosophical] metamorphosis. I needed to get on the ballot and the [American Constitution Party] needed to draw votes." (Don't you feel better already?) The Rasmussen poll shows 59 percent of Republican voters backing Tancredo. Other recent polls show a much larger gap between Tancredo and Hickenlooper, but all show the Constitution Party candidate gaining on the Democrat. The most recent Denver Post/Survey USA poll shows Hickenlooper with a 12-point lead, but that poll was taken more than two weeks ago, on September 29. Rasmussen is sometimes dismissed by observers for being too weighted in Republicans' favor, but in races that fail to follow predicted courses, Rasmussen is sometimes more on top of on-the-ground sentiment among G.O.P. voters, especially late in a race. A Fordham University report (PDF) ranked Rasmussen first in accuracy in for its final poll of the 2008 presidential election -- ahead of Pew and Harris, and far ahead of Gallup (ranked 17th). Rasmussen also accurately polled the 2004 presidential race.