As State Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton starts to make his case for taking on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, he's embracing his conservative background, not trying to modify or conceal it, framing himself as the kind of no-compromise conservative who will shut down the government, if necessary, to get the job done.
So, the big-money question is, will the country-club Republicans respond to Neville, like they did to former Rep. Tom Tancredo, also a conservative who held views, according to conventioal wisdon, were seen as potentially alienating to swing voters.
When Tanc was poised to win the GOP gubernatorial primary last year over Bob Beuaprez, the national Republicans knocked him out by funding an ad campaign directed at Republican primary voters. It worked. Down went Tancredo. Up went Beauprez. And down went Beuprez later.
You might think history is about to repeat itself soon, with moneyed Republicans thinking that Neville would sully the GOP brand in Colorado and, even more importantly in our swing state, undermine the efforts of the Republican presidential candidate.
I asked Tancredo if he thought the establishment Republicans would try to bring down Neville.
Tancredo called it an "interesting question," saying, "I happen to like Tim Neville. I think he's a great guy, and he could win the primary."
"Will they do to him what they did to me?" Tancredo said. "I don't think so, because I don't think they have an alternative whom they think can win."
"In my case, they knocked me out because they thought they could perhaps win with Bob. But I don't think there is a sense that they could win this race with anybody presently on the scene. So they don't give a rat's ass. And they're not going to spend any money necessarily attacking Neville, because they don't think he'll win. But they don't think anybody they've got will win."
Neville is an across-the-board conservative, in the Tea Party mold, from guns (opposing permits to carry concealed guns) and vaccinations (supporting parents who reject them) to immigration (against in-state tuition for undocumented students) and choice issues, which I addressed in a RH Reality Check post Monday.
"We're not going to shy away from issues, whether it be issues we brought up last year in the Parent's Bill of Rights [or] issues that are important to life," Neville told Rocky Mountain Community Radio's Bente Birkeland last week.
Neither is Neville shy about using the budget process to shut down the federal government. Asked for his view of the "no-government-shutdownmantra" on KNUS 710-AM Oct. 4, Neville said it's a "false premise. When has the government ever shut down?" He said he's the kind of conservative leader who draws other lawmakers to him, rather than the kind who compromises. Listen to Neville on KNUS here.
In the past, the Tea Party warrior stance, as articulated by Neville, has incited on the wrath of the establishment Republicans, and it's led them push out Tea-Party candidates.
"It's got to the right circumstance for the [establishment Republicans] to do it," observed Tancredo. "After all they couldn't stop Dan Maes. And if you can't stop Dan Maes, baby, I don't know what kind of shot you think you have."
But, I asked Tancredo, maybe there's not a U.S. senate candidate that establishment Republicans think can win now. But would they bring in a self-funding placeholder, someone like Beauprez who is more in line with traditional Republicans?
"Let's see what would they look for?" asked Tancredo. "Oh, I know! A really rich old white guy? I bet that's who they'd try to find to run. [Laughs.] Sure. There's the key. That's the ticket. Rich old white guys have so much appeal in Colorado."
We laugh together at this, and the interview ends.