On 2008 and Baseball: Chasing the GOP Pennant

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo's bid for the Republican presidential nomination is, to say the least, swinging for the fences. A wild card candidate in the Republican field, Tancredo does not have the payroll of a Mitt Romney, who for the purposes of this analogy we'll title the Red Sox. Or the status of a Rudy Giuliani, who we'll call the Yankees.

(All these baseball analogies might seem forced. But they have a purpose.)

In the political spectrum, Tancredo has fashioned himself as a crusader against amnesty for illegal immigrants. And in an election cycle where the Iraq War weighs on the collective American conscience and the specter of an economic downturn has caused jitters, it is possible voters could turn to a candidate with -- for lack of a better term -- a deeper bullpen in the issues department.

In their party, Romney and Giuliani are the true fundraisers. They, like the teams they root for, have all the campaign dough.

While he has focused entirely on his presidential run this season, Tancredo, from Colorado, like his team the Rockies, has not yet decided whether he will simultaneously seek reelection to his congressional seat, where he currently represents the people of Littleton, Colo., near Denver.

Instead of arbitrarily picking a date or waiting for the early presidential nominating contests in January, Tancredo has indicated he'll just wait until the end of the baseball season to make that decision. More specifically, when the Colorado Rockies either go out of contention for their first World Series title or win the crown, Tancredo said he will announce whether he's going to run for reelection to his congressional seat.

He could have a little more time to mull.

Colorado, a wild card for the National League, swept Philadelphia in three games in their first playoff berth since 1995 -- before Tancredo had even been elected to Congress -- and heads to Arizona for the first game of the NLCS Thursday.

It begs the question: How far does hometown baseball carry inside the 2008 ballpark?

Would an Angels-Rockies match-up pit California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, the author of the first legislation to put a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, against Tancredo for the mantle of anti-illegal immigration spokesman?

Are the Diamondbacks John McCain?

The Cleveland Indians, who face off against the Red Sox at Fenway Friday, would have to be Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who was Cleveland's mayor in the 1970s. Though, it should be mentioned that Kucinich's Democratic party affiliation doesn't entirely work in a story about the GOP pennant race. We'll let it stand because the last time the Indians won the World Series was in 1948 (against the Boston Braves, Gov. Romney). We'll also give Romney the benefit of the doubt since the Red Sox curse is broken.

Alan Moore, Tancredo's campaign spokesman, said even if Tancredo does decide to formally seek reelection to his House seat, it does not mean he is abandoning his run for the White House.

Tancredo, however, won't be there to watch the game. While it originally appeared that Tancredo and the other three House members in the presidential race would be stuck in Washington this week doing the people's business, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members there would be no more votes for the rest of the week, so the Colorado congressman's campaign staff put together a quick trip to campaign in Iowa.

When the Rockies take to the mound in Arizona against the Diamondbacks, Tancredo will be in Cedar Rapids talking at a press conference about the sanctity of life.

Campaign spokesman Alan Moore said it is not unusual for Tancredo to squeeze last-minute campaign trips around his day job. "With his congressional schedule we only have a limited amount of time to schedule trips," Moore said.

Tancredo needs to do all the campaigning he can.

While his activism against amnesty has turned him into a national conservative voice on immigration, he is behind in the polls in Iowa, with about 5 percent support among Republicans in most surveys. That is more than the buzz candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who shocked pundits by earning more than $5 million in the third quarter of 2007 but polls around 4 percent in the early caucus state.

It is unclear how Tancredo's fundraising has been going. While most candidates have released their third quarter fundraising numbers, Tancredo has not. Moore said the campaign has not entirely compiled the data yet. Tancredo raised $1.4 million in the second quarter, which ended June 30.

And it will ultimately be fundraising, not baseball, that determines how long Tancredo stays in the hunt for the Republican nomination, according to Moore.

"He has always said that he will continue as long as there is enough money to keep the race going," Moore said.

Anything less than a top-three finish in a state like Iowa or New Hampshire would pretty much dry up the contributions.

So for now, Tancredo, not unlike his beloved Rockies, is in the hunt to beat the odds against a better-funded team.