Sep 16, 2010 7:35 PM by David Ortiviz

Party leaders speak about bizarre governor's race

It's one of the most unusual governor's races in Colorado history: three candidates vying for the top spot and a series of twists and turns shaking up the race. Democrats think they have the advantage, Republicans are trying to recover from a rift within their party and the American Constitution Party is gaining steam.

The three candidates are Democrat John Hickenlooper, Republican Dan Maes and American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo.

Terry Hart runs the Democratic Party in Pueblo. Hart thinks Maes and Tancredo will split the Republican vote, giving Hickenlooper the edge. "If you can get a split in the other side, it's typically advantageous," said Hart.

The American Constitution Party remains confident. "Tom Tancredo has a better chance of winning a three-way race, than Dan Maes has  winning a two-way race." said Cliff Dodge, Tancredo's campaign coordinator.

Republicans disagree with both camps. "The reason why a lot of Republicans won't support Tancredo is because he left the Republican Party," said Dave Dill, chairman of the Pueblo Republican Party.

However, Republicans face another challenge: a rift within their party. Maes has lost the support of several Republicans. Also, just two months before election day Dick Wadhams, the chairman of the State Republican Party said he was "disappointed" that Maes decided to stay in the race.

"Never seen that as a party chair, party chair's function as far as I'm concerned is you fight for your slated candidates tooth and nail," said Hart.

"20/20 hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking he would probably choose some different words I can't speak for Dick Wadhams," said Dill. Dill says since then, Wadhams and the State Republican Executive Committee have made one thing clear: "We back Dan Maes as our candidate," said Dill.

Perhaps an advantage for Maes and Tancredo is the growing discontent with democratic leadership in Washington D.C. A recent NBC Wall Street Journal poll shows almost half of americans disapprove of President Obama and 61% think the country's headed in the wrong direction.

A new statewide Rasmussen poll shows if the election was held today, Hickenlooper would get 46% of the vote, Tancredo would come in second with 25%, and Maes would finish last with 21%. The remaining 8% were either undecided or preferred another candidate.

"(The Tancredo camp) feels very good about the position in the polls because poll taken before any direct mail, radio and television went up and as a famous general once said we have not yet began to fight, and by next poll the spread will be even greater," said Cliff.

"We're loving what we're seeing, but politics is a lot like a football game, it ain't over til it's over," said Hart.


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