Tancredo says he won’t seek re-election | AspenTimes.com

Tancredo says he won’t seek re-election

George Merritt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo announced Monday he won’t seek a sixth term in Congress from Colorado next year, saying he has succeeded in making illegal immigration a national issue.

But Tancredo said he will continue his long-shot bid for the White House and hinted that if that fails, we would consider running for the Senate.

The lawmaker said he doesn’t need to stay in the House to push illegal immigration because “the issue now has a life of its own and it doesn’t need one particular person to champion it.”

“I feel my job, my task, has been completed. And I am very much at peace with the idea that if I’m not elected president, then I won’t be running” for another term in Congress, he said.

Tancredo, 61, is a former teacher and real estate developer who served in the Colorado Legislature in the late 1970s. He was elected to the House in 1998 in a district that includes his suburban Denver home of Littleton.

He has polled in the low single digits in the crowded GOP presidential race.

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In a telephone interview from Iowa, where he is campaigning, Tancredo called his presidential run an odd experience because people like his stand on immigration but support other candidates.

“So many people come up and they are applauding and screaming and hollering (for him), but they are wearing somebody else’s sticker,” he said.

Tancredo said he wants to stay involved in public policy, possibly with a group such as the conservative Independence Institute in Golden or running for the Senate.

“Who knows,” he said. “There is always that thing called the U.S. Senate. The Senate still has a lot of work to do.”

Republican Bob Schaffer and Democrat Mark Udall are bidding for the Senate seat that will open when Colorado Republican Wayne Allard retires in early 2009, but Tancredo has not ruled out a run against Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar in 2010.

Colorado College political science professor Bob Loevy said Tancredo’s 6th Congressional District will likely remain a safe Republican seat.

“It is one of the most Republican areas” in the state, Loevy said. A Democrat has never won the seat.

Loevy said that has allowed Tancredo take a hard-line stance on immigration.

“I would argue it actually solidified his position,” he said. “Someone in a safe Republican seat like that is more likely to be challenged from the right in a primary.”

With Tancredo out of the picture, the seat is likely to draw a deep field in the Republican primary, GOP consultant Katy Atkinson said.

“When Tom was first elected there were six or eight people in the primary,” she said. “I would imagine it is going to be just as crowded” next year.

Atkinson said several people have already been mentioned as potential candidates, including businessman Roger Hutson, state Sens. Tom Wiens and Ted Harvey, former state Senate President John Andrews, Secretary of State Mike Coffman and Wil Armstrong, son of former Sen. Bill Armstrong.