More on Tennessee Turnoff of Tancredo

Here’s a follow-up on a previous story about a GOP controversy: When Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.) was left off the ballot of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference’s straw vote for President in ’08 at the March 10-12 Memphis, Tenn., meeting, more than some conservatives were left scratching their heads. Tancredo has, after all, been much in the news lately, espousing serious border control reform in an unapologetic manner.

The Tennessee Republican Party, which organized the SRLC, told us that Tancredo was not invited to the Memphis session because he didn’t meet the criteria of a serious presidential contender. When HUMAN EVENTS correspondent Patrick Casey contacted state party headquarters and noted that Tennessee Republican Representatives Marsha Blackburn and Zach Wamp were invited to the SRLC and neither is considered a presidential contender, party spokesman Chris DeVaney replied that Tancredo ‘does not merit special preference either — not being from the South." But Gov. Bill Owens is from Colorado, the same state as Tancredo, and he was invited. "But he [Tancredo] never called and had no one contact the SRLC," the spokesman told Casey.

Casey thereupon phoned Dave Pierson, a political consultant who works for Tancredo. Pierson insisted that he called State Party Chairman Bob Davis, Jr., in Tennessee specifically to ask him to invite Tancredo to speak at the conference (the prerequisite for getting on the straw poll ballot). Unfortunately, Pierson told Casey, Davis would not take his call and decided not to call him back.

Spokesman DeVaney told us that party staffer Anne Locke, the organizer of the SRLC, did talk to Pierson "but we never heard form Congressman Tancredo himself." DeVaney insisted that "we respect Congressman Tancredo and his stand on the issue of illegal immigration," that the party website highlighted an earlier visit to Tennessee by Tancredo, but felt "he didn’t fit into the program" in Memphis.