I was surprised a few weeks back when Tom Tancredo announced a campaign for Colorado governor on the American Constitution Party ticket. (It’s the state affiliate of the national Constitution Party.) The former congressman had earlier urged his supporters in the Tea Party to stick with the GOP. But it turns out that Republican fratricide in the Centennial State has blown whatever chance the party had to take the office currently held by Democrat Bill Ritter. The Democratic nominee, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, has a twenty-point lead over his nearest rival — who is fact is Tancredo, not Republican Dan Maes. There’s speculation that Maes could be pressured out of the race, consolidating the GOP vote behind Tancredo. That would make the race competitive, if Tancredo succeeded in welding his 25 percent of the vote to Maes’s 21 percent. (Hickenlooper polls at 46 percent.)
We’ve seen quite a few schisms in the major parties over the past few cycles — this year’s Florida Senate race and 2006′s Connecticut contest spring readily to mind — but this is a rare case where a third party has been able to take advantage of the disruption.