Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is ending his bid for the Republican nomination for Colorado governor on Tuesday because he hasn't raised the money he believes would be necessary to win an expensive election against a wealthy Democrat willing to spend millions on his campaign, Colorado Politics has learned.
"I do not want to win a primary and lose a general, and I fear that was where we were going," he told Colorado Politics in an interview.
"Even though I'm the front-runner - you make it through a primary, and then all hell breaks loose, you have millions upon millions of dollars spent attacking you, and you can't respond, you don't have the resources to respond. It appeared to me the goal - winning the general, that was the main goal - and it does not appear to me to be feasible."
One of nine announced GOP candidates for governor, Tancredo has led the pack by wide margins in every publicly available poll. He's run for governor twice before - in 2010 as a third-party candidate, when he lost to Democrat John Hickenlooper but received more than three times as many votes as the Republican nominee, and in 2014, when he came in second in a four-way Republican primary.
Tancredo said he was confident he could win the June primary election but anticipated his campaign would be overwhelmed by Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, who has already spent nearly $1.4 million on his campaign.
"The thing is this, when you look at it and you recognize what you're up against and you realize the lack of resources you have to defend yourself throughout this process, you say the risks are too high," Tancredo told Colorado Politics.
"I can't do this and risk taking resources away from other Republican races. I can't risk doing this and allowing Polis to win as a result of being able to make me into the devil incarnate because he has the resources to do it, and I don't have the resources to respond. The risks are too high given where we are and given the financial situation that exists in my campaign. I don't want to do anything that would turn this state over to a Democrat, especially at this point in time."
Tancredo said he doesn't plan to make an endorsement in the primary but will back the Republican nominee.
Tancredo said his campaign team decided before he announced his run three months ago that he needed to raise $150,000 by the middle of January in order to mount a viable campaign - but when the time came, had fallen far short.
"At the beginning of our effort, two weeks before I ever announced, we had a meeting and talked about my prospects - what we had on my side and what we had going against us. We knew the media - the Denver Post, Channel 9, that group - would be working as hard as any Democrats against me. We knew the Democrats would have a lot of money and that the Republican establishment would not support my effort," he said. "So we established a threshold - that we would have $150,000 in contributions by Jan 15 and, if we didn't, we would recognize the attempt was probably futile. Jan 15 came, and we didn't have anywhere near $150,000."
According to campaign finance reports filed earlier this month, Tancredo raised $74,480 through the end of the year and had $62,996 in the bank. He said his campaign had about $50,000 on hand this week.
"I thought, holy mackerel, this is not going to get any better. I could not see how we could accomplish the goal with the few resources we have," he said.