Colorado Republicans Facing Minority Status in Gubernatorial Election

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (FNC)

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (FNC)

Thanks to a quirk in Colorado law, Republicans in that state who have all but written off the governor's race, are facing the growing possibility that their party will be relegated to minor party status – a purgatory that could limit its fundraising by half and force its name down the ballot with other third parties.

If Republican nominee Dan Maes finishes with less than 10 percent in the governor's race next month, the GOP would have to follow rules that could slash in half the amount its state candidates can collect from the state's campaign financing fund.

That possibility is growing by the day as American Constitution Party nominee Tom Tancredo, the former Republican who switched parties in the summer, surges in the race ahead of Maes and behind Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper.

If Tancredo picks up more than 10 percent at the polls, his party will get promoted to the major league, a prospect that would require a costly organizational overhaul.

The party did not return e-mails seeking comment.

A recent poll by the Denver Post, which first reported the story, shows Maes at 15 percent with Hickenlooper at 46 percent and Tancredo at 34 percent.

But state Republicans aren't worried about falling into minority status.

"It's not that a big of a deal," GOP chairman Dick Wadhams told FoxNews.com, who acknowledged that their gubernatorial nominee is in trouble. "The statue can be changed and I anticipate it will be changed. Our party will not function any differently as far as the nomination process goes."

Wadhams said Republicans are focused on Senate and House races and gaining control of the state legislature. But he added, even if Democrats maintain control of the legislature, he thinks they will overturn the law.

"It clearly is not a valid or rational definition of a major political party, not when there's 850,000 active registered Republicans to 790,000 active registered Democrats," he said. "Regardless of who controls the legislature, this comes under the heading of stupid."

Bob Duffy, a political scientist at Colorado State University, told FoxNews.com called the possibility of Republicans becoming a minority party an "overblown phenomenon. "

"It would obviously be a hit for some candidates to not get money they would otherwise get now," he said, but added that they could make up for it in their own fundraising. "There would be a small price to pay, but not a huge price to pay."

Duffy wasn't as confident as the state Republican Party that a Democrat-controlled legislature would overturn the law conferring minority status.

"I would need to see that to believe that," he said, noting that the political atmosphere in Colorado has been very partisan for the past several years. "I don't think Democrats will go out of their way to be magnanimous toward Republicans."