Former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo recently announced that he is running for governor of Colorado in 2014. Despite being the grandson of immigrants, this outspoken politician has built his career on an anti-immigrant, nativist platform. His extreme positions have consistently received national media attention and political support in Colorado.
However, the tides have shifted locally and nationally around immigration. Even Tancredo’s successor, Mike Coffman, supports immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. State level politics have seen a dramatic reversal with the recent repeal of anti-immigrant SB 90, the success of the tuition equity bill ASSET, and – pending the governor’s signature – the restoration of driver’s licenses for undocumented Colorado residents.
While Tancredo’s persistent bigotry is no surprise, the real question will be how he and his friends fare in this new climate.
Though it is too early to determine how much success – if any – former Congressman Tancredo will find in a gubernatorial race, here are ten important highlights from his career of peddling prejudice:
- Tancredo is a powerful actor in the contemporary anti-immigrant movement. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, he founded the House Immigration Reform Caucus, serving as its first chairman, and Team America PAC, both where he repeatedly introduced bills to halt immigration to the US.
- Despite the GOP’s shift in tone following the November elections, Tancredo has maintained his extreme position on immigration. Four months ago, Tancredo accused the Republican party of being on a suicidal path because of its willingness to compromise on immigration. More recently, he wrote that the current immigration reform proposal “ought to be titled the ‘Jihadists Empowerment Act of 2013.’”
- Tancredo has repeatedly asserted, much to the dismay of his conservative colleagues, that the US should threaten to bomb Muslim holy sites Mecca and Medina in order to deter a terrorist attack.
- Despite his anti-Islamic enthusiasm, Tancredo declared in a 2010 op-ed that Obama was “a greater threat to the US than Al Qaeda,” and called for his impeachment. Last week he re-iterated the call for impeachment, and concluded by saying the US is already a dictatorship.
- In a 2010 speech at the National Tea Party Convention, Tancredo blamed Obama’s election on “people who could not even spell the word ‘vote,’ or say it in English.” He called for a civics and literacy test as a prerequisite to voting, and suggested the country’s first black president would not have been elected had such tests been in place. Similar tests were widely used to bar blacks from voting in the Jim Crow era south and were outlawed by the 1964 Voting Rights Act.
- Tancredo is the honorary chairman of the right wing student organization, Youth for Western Civilization. This white nationalist group has repeatedly found itself mired in controversy for its connections to organized racism.
- Tancredo is currently helping revive ProEnglish. In an email sent last month, Tancredo asked supporters to donate to this nativist organization, arguing, “ProEnglish is the most effective group in America when it comes to preserving English as our national language, promoting patriotic assimilation, and combating multiculturalism.”
- Tancredo openly collaborates with white nationalist groups. He regularly contributes to VDARE, was the keynote speaker at Social Contract Press’s annual writer’s workshop in 2012, and, years before, spoke at a gathering hosted by a neo-Confederate group in South Carolina.
- Despite his own involvement with organized racism, Tancredo seems to believe the real racist threat comes from those who are nonwhite. He accused Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee of “possible” racism for her connection to the advocacy group, La Raza. More pointedly, he called the group the “Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.”