Editor’s Note: The Denver Post’s Jessica Fender is now reporting that this event raised $40,000 for the Tancredo campaign.
By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Third-party candidate Tom Tancredo brought out the big dogs yesterday to help him raise money for his gubernatorial campaign. Duane Chapman, aka reality star/bounty hunter Dog the Bounty Hunter, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona figure known for making his convicts wear pink underwear and sleep in tents, topped the bill for Tancredo’s fundraiser at the Western saloon and dancehall the Grizzly Rose. Both public figures praised Tancredo for being an honorable man who isn’t afraid to take on the establishment.
“You want a typical politician who reads a speech and tells you who want you hear?”, asked Arpaio, “Or do you want a guy who is going to tell it like it is and gets it done?”
Tancredo is the first political candidate Chapman has ever endorsed. In 2006, Tancredo led the effort to prevent Chapman from being extradited to Mexico for allegedly capturing Andrew Luster, convicted rapist and Max Factor heir, and bringing him across the border from Mexico to the United States in 2003. Bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico.
Tancredo got nearly 30 other members of Congress to write a letter to then President George W. Bush’s administration asking them to deny Chapman’s extradition. The charges ended up later being dropped due to the statute of limitations.
Beth Chapman, Duane’s wife who also stars in the bounty hunting reality show, said Tancredo was one of the first people who called her to see if he could help after her husband was threatened with extradition.
“What he did for us in Congress is what he will do for every Colorado citizen here,” Beth said. “He will help you, he will stand up for you and he will heed the call when you call him.”
For his part, Arpaio said he was similar to Tancredo in many ways. Arpaio spoke in detail about his effort to combat illegal immigration in Arizona, and trumped Tancredo as the like-minded fighter that Colorado needs.
“He’ll shake everybody up in Washington,” he said.
But like most issues involving Tancredo, yesterday’s fundraiser was not without controversy. The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition held a protest outside of the Grizzly Rose to protest Tancredo’s and Arpaio’s “failed immigration policy.” Political organizer Julie Gonzales said immigration reform should be handled on the federal level, not through local initiatives like Senate Bill 170 Ń the Arizona law backed by Tancredo and Arpaio that significantly cracks down on illegal immigration.
“To see these failed state and local level politicians try to run campaigns based on fear and hate mongering, it’s a shame,” she said.
The latest Rasmussen poll found that Democrat John Hickenlooper still holds a commanding lead over Tancredo, who is running as an American Constitution Party candidate, and Republican candidate Dan Maes. But the poll found that Tancredo is now picking up more votes than Maes. Tancredo said that his grassroots support, such as the supporters who paid $35 to get into yesterday’s fundraiser, makes it possible for him to win the election.
“We have a tough road ahead of us, there are no two ways about that,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this; I believe with all my heart that it is the right thing we are doing for the state of Colorado.”