Tancredo’s decision sets off GOP scramble for 6th District | PostIndependent.com

Tancredo’s decision sets off GOP scramble for 6th District

DENVER (AP) ” Only a week has passed since Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo said he will give up his Colorado seat in Congress, but GOP candidates are already stepping up or bowing out in the campaign to replace him.

State Sen. Sen. Tom Wiens said Wednesday he won’t seek Tancredo’s job, while state Sen. Ted Harvey said he will.

Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman announced Tuesday he would run, which means Gov. Bill Ritter will probably appoint a fellow Democrat to be secretary of state if Coffman wins the congressional seat.

Wiens had been considering a run for Congress but said he believes he can have more of an impact on Colorado’s future in the state Senate.

He said he wants to make sure taxpayers and working families have an advocate in the state Senate.

Harvey praised Tancredo as a passionate conservative and a fierce fighter for immigration reform.

“I have big shoes to fill. Congressman Tancredo is a conservative hero on so many issues, Harvey said. Tancredo has made immigration a key part of his long-shot campaign for president.

He credited Tancredo with blocking President Bush’s proposal to offer illegal workers already in the country a path to citizenship, a plan opponents deride as amnesty.

He also said he was disappointed that Coffman decided to step down as secretary of state to run for Congress because it clears the way for Ritter to appoint a Democrat to the job.

“I would hate to see him give that seat to the Democrats at such an important time, with the new election laws and redistricting coming up,” Harvey said.

GOP state Chairman Dick Wadhams has said he was “profoundly disappointed” by Coffman’s decision because he was a staunch supporter of secure elections against what Wadhams described as Democratic attempts to increase voter eligibility.

Sean Tonner, Coffman’s campaign manager, said Coffman has been loyal to the party, even to the point of giving up a run for governor two years ago to help his team. Tonner said Coffman has no plans to step down until after the general election if he wins his primary race.

He said Coffman believes he now has a “higher calling” because there are no Republican members of Congress who have served in Iraq and a dearth of military veterans in the House.

Colorado College political science professor Bob Loevy said a primary between Coffman and Harvey would be a battle to see who can capture the active conservative base in the staunchly conservative 6th Congressional District.

“It’s a race to see who can be the most conservative in a Republican primary. That will be a problem for Coffman if he’s perceived to be more moderate,” Loevy said.

Loevy said Harvey has a strong conservative record in the Legislature while Coffman is an Iraq war veteran who vowed to keep illegal immigrants from voting when he campaigned for office.

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