I guess I'll Just Shut Up Now
Tancredo vs. Cannon?A-ha-ha-ha-ha! Suck it up boys, there's a lot more like this coming.
June 20, 2006
By Ben Pershing,
Roll Call Staff
House Republican leaders don’t need another reminder that their Conference is divided on the issue of immigration. But they’re getting one anyway, courtesy of Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.).
The political action committee founded by Tancredo, Team America PAC, has been garnering national press for its forceful assault on Rep. Chris Cannon (R), who faces a tough GOP primary challenge in Utah’s 3rd district. Team America is running radio ads lambasting Cannon’s immigration position and aggressively has encouraged readers of its Web site to oppose Cannon’s re-election.
The moves have caught the attention of Republican leaders, who always try — with mixed success — to remind GOP lawmakers not to target their fellow incumbent Republicans.
“It’s bad enough fighting off [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman] Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),” said a senior House GOP leadership aide. “We really don’t need to be fighting off one of our own Members.”
Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has complained in recent years to Tancredo about the activities of Team America, which also hounded Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe (R) before he announced he would retire this cycle. Then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) made similar pleas, apparently to no avail.
“Hastert talked to [Tancredo] about it during the Kolbe race,” said the leadership aide. “He was saying, ‘It’s not really me, I’m not really behind it, blah blah blah,’ but it’s not true.”
For the record, Tancredo is the “founding chairman” of the Team America PAC, while Bay Buchanan is the group’s chairwoman and chief spokeswoman.
“He’s really stayed apart from it since the founding,” said Tancredo spokesman Will Adams. “He has no formal influence over what the PAC does. Obviously he and Bay are friends, but in terms of strategically where the PAC is going, he doesn’t make the decisions.”
Asked what role Tancredo had in Team America’s decisions, Buchanan said, “None.”
“He stepped down from his position as chairman 18 months ago, and while he and I continue to be close ... I don’t know if he’s heard the ad [against Cannon] and he was not consulted,” Buchanan said, though she added that “we both agree that it’s time to hold the Congressmen and Senators accountable for their votes.”
Of course, Team America’s Web site does prominently feature a picture of Tancredo and several quotes from the lawmaker, and the Web site of Tancredo’s re-election campaign links to that of Team America. And while Tancredo says he doesn’t control the PAC, he does endorse its actions and has pledged to travel on behalf of the candidates the group backs.
...Cannon himself has expressed his displeasure at Team America’s actions, which focus on criticizing Cannon’s support of President Bush’s immigration reform plan. Team America calls Cannon the “King of Amnesty” and has featured his face with a bull’s-eye on it on the group’s Web site (though that image is no longer viewable on the site).
Unlike in the case of Kolbe, who represents a swing district, Republicans are in little danger of losing Cannon’s seat even if the incumbent falls in the primary, as the 3rd district gave Bush 77 percent of the vote in 2004.
...“It’s unfortunate whenever members of the Republican Conference decide to engage in activity against fellow Members,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “The NRCC fully supports Mr. Cannon.”
As unhappy as Republican leaders are about Tancredo’s agitation, it isn’t clear whether they can exact any retribution against the Coloradoan.
...But Tancredo doesn’t have a chairmanship or a spot on an exclusive panel; he has seats on the International Relations and Resources committees. And Tancredo spends more of his time traveling the country, including visits to presidential primary states, and making media appearance on the immigration issue than he does working the legislative process on Capitol Hill.
“How would they pressure us?” asked Tancredo spokesman Adams. “We don’t have a choice committee assignment that they could really take from us. ... It’s freeing not to have any sort of points of leverage against us.”
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