By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Despite several polls having third party candidate Tom Tancredo within striking distance of Democrat John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial race, the Hickenlooper campaign says they are keeping their promise to not run negative ads through Election Day.
However, a third party Democrat group over the weekend started running ads slamming Tancredo for supporting Referendum A in 2003, which would have bonded out $2 billion for water projects. And a Denver Post/9News poll released yesterday shows Hickenlooper with a 10-percent lead.
Hickenlooper vowed against going negative in his first gubernatorial campaign ad, and has so far made good on that promise. However, his commanding lead over Tancredo, who is splitting the conservative vote with Republican candidate Dan Maes, has dwindled to within four points, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. Meanwhile, Tancredo has attacked Hickenlooper at every step, most notably in a TV spot that in part blamed Hickenlooper’s “sanctuary city” policies for helping allow an illegal immigrant to crash into an ice cream store and kill a child.
Political pundit and Denver Daily News columnist Aaron Harber isn’t surprised that a third party group has started running a negative ad against Tancredo since the former Republican congressman now has a fighting chance against Hickenlooper.
“Hickenlooper will avoid breaking his promise by letting other people take care of those issues,” he said. “The dirty work will be taken care of by a third party.”
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper campaign spokesman George Merritt said the campaign is still refusing to go negative.
“John said from the beginning he would campaign on finding solutions to create jobs and turn our economy around, and nothing has changed that,” he said.
Regardless, Harber doesn’t think attack ads would play a significant role come Election Day. Even if Hickenlooper broke his promise to not go negative, the overwhelming majority of people have already made up their mind on who they will vote for, according to Harber. Early voting started last Monday.
“People are sick of the political advertising, I think people are no longer paying attention to the ads,” Harber said. “And I think the credibility for ads is so low, that when you hear something outrageous, even if it’s true, you assume it’s fabricated.”
Despite his surge in the polls, Harber doesn’t believe Tancredo will be able to beat Hickenlooper on Election Day because enough conservatives will automatically vote Republican to spoil his victory.
Tancredo, a former GOP congressman, joined the American Constitution Party after the primaries because he didn’t believe Maes had a chance to win the election.
However, Harber said Tancredo has pulled off an incredible accomplishment by getting within striking distance of Hickenlooper.
“I don’t think there were many people who thought Tancredo would be doing as well as he is now doing,” he said. “I see Tancredo doing better every day that passes, but there aren’t enough days left.”