Republicans across the country are high-fiving each other following their sweep in the midterm elections last week. But there’s one prominent GOPer who is keeping his hands firmly in his pockets: Tom Tancredo.
Not only is he not celebrating the GOP’s string of victories, but the former Colorado congressman and failed gubernatorial and presidential candidate has launched a political action committee to stop New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s potential run for president in 2016.
Aptly titled “Stop Chris Christie,” the PAC aims to generate awareness that “this guy is no conservative,” Tancredo told msnbc. And though Christie has not made an official decision on whether he will run for the Oval Office, Tancredo is convinced it’s all but certain. “Christie wants to be president. He’s on the campaign trail even though it’s informal,” Tancredo added.
While Christie wasn’t on the ballot in the midterms, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) emerged a winner following last week’s elections with Christie-backed candidates winning races in key states like Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas and Maine. Christie has been crisscrossing the country non-stop for months — and Tancredo doesn’t want him to exploit that momentum.
The two have a rocky shared history. Tancredo accused the Republican Governors Association, which Christie chairs, of hijacking the Republican primary election in Colorado. Tancredo ran for the state’s top job but lost to former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. (Beauprez narrowly lost to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in the general election.)The former Colorado lawmaker accused the RGA of funneling money to help Beauprez through the Republican Attorneys General Association — despite the organization’s promise not to attempt to sway the GOP primaries. The left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that tracks campaign finances, first came out with the report accusing the RGA of influencing the race through backdoor method.
In August, when reporters asked Christie about the allegations, he replied, “Anybody who loses an election is always unhappy and looking for someone else to blame.” The governor’s office declined to comment to msnbc about Tancredo’s new PAC.
Tancredo said his PAC against Christie, whom he has never personally spoken to, is partially about political payback. “There are no two ways about it,” he said. “When he came to Colorado and did that, he raised his visibility level on my radar screen.”
Had the RGA not meddled, as Tancredo alleges, “I very well might have started a PAC designed to stop Republican RINOS [Republican In Name Only], but Christie helped me put a face on it.” The PAC’s website, StopChrisChristie.org, is expected to go live on Tuesday.
Christie — a blue state governor — has never been a favorite of his party’s right wing. There’s still anger over Christie’s infamous embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy and shortly before the 2012 presidential election. And many in the conservative base think Christie is too moderate on issues like gun control, climate change and gay marriage.
In recent months, Christie has seemingly veered right on a number of issues. He vetoed gun control legislation, declared that the gay marriage debate isn’t over and took a more hard-line stance on Israel.
According to an NBC News national exit poll of voters following the midterm races, 24% said Christie would make a good president. He tied with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Meanwhile, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came out on top with 29%, followed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul with 26%. Democrat Hillary Clinton received the most support with 43% of midterm voters saying the former secretary of state would make a good president. Conservative PAC, America Rising, launched a “Stop Hillary” initiative earlier this year.
For his part, Tancredo also engenders controversy. He’s been an outspoken opponent of immigration reform, and he has backed legalizing marijuana. The 68-year-old, who unsuccessfully ran for president in the 2008 election, said he has no political aspirations on the horizon.
“I don’t see anything happening in the near enough future for me as I grow older,” said Tancredo, quickly adding if Obama does take executive action on immigration, “I don’t know what I‘ll do, but I’ll do something.”
Now Tancredo says he spends his time writing and with his miniature Golden Doodle, Sasha, in his Lakewood, Colorado, home. “I have a dog that is very happy that I did not make it through the primary because now she gets a walk every single day,” he said.