Chasing the Car: The Constitution Party of Colorado

In the Colorado gubernatorial election of 2010, if you recall, Tom Tancredo's entrance into the race on the Constitution Party ticket and his strong showing transformed the organization into a major party under Colorado election law.  Unfortunately, however, the party does not appear to have significantly capitalized upon Tancredo's success and still has only a few thousand members.  Furthermore, as a recognized major party, it is now required to fulfill the myriad obligations meant to regulate mass organizations with hundreds of thousands or millions of members, but, due to its small size, it is not equal to the task.  From The Republic:
The American Constitution Party . . . says it's fed up with the bureaucracy of being a major player in state politics — and besides, it can't afford it.  With only 4,134 members, the ACP has had to create a 21-member central committee, elect an executive committee and set up party committees in each of Colorado's 64 counties. In exchange, the party gets a place at or near the top of the ballot in the next gubernatorial election in 2014.

"We keep asking Secretary of State Scott Gessler what's the benefit of being a major party. We get a higher position on the ballot, but if that's the only thing, it's not worth it," said Amanda Campbell, the ACP's treasurer and an executive board member.

Being a major party brings major responsibilities, like filing detailed campaign finance reports, hiring lawyers to interpret complicated state and federal reporting requirements, and holding primaries and caucuses. But according to the secretary of state's website, the ACP had just $817 in the bank as of April 15 . . . . 
The Constitution Party of Colorado's situation is not very different from the dilemma faced by a dog that has successfully chased down a car.  What does he do with it once he's caught it? 


TiradeFaction said...

This is why I vehemently disagree when people claim the best way to build viable alternative parties is to get a big viable candidate to run in a big name race on that ticket. It does not lead to actual party building though, and when they bolt the party (Like Roosevelt did with the Progressive Party), the party infrastructure tends to collapse, because it was too reliant on one man.

d.eris said...

Good point. In this case though, Tancredo basically just swooped in at the last second and occupied the Constitution party ballot spot. The significant amounts of money he raised went into his individual campaign and stayed there. And he only gave a few token statements in support of the party. He's now rejoined the GOP after a very short period of flirting with independence or remaining with the CP. It seems like here they were not reliant on him, rather he has become a burden on them. It really is too bad they didn't have the organizational infrastructure to take advantage of the opportunity his candidacy provided them. But, then again, there's still time before the next election, and they'll have a prime ballot spot.