[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/19/art.maes.tancredo.2shot.facbook.jpg caption ="In Colorado, American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo (right) says his gubernatorial challenger, Republican Dan Maes (left) is ‘a total fraud.’"](CNN) - Third-party Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, the former Republican congressman, wants GOP nominee Dan Maes out of the race, telling CNN the Tea Party-backed candidate is a "total fraud."
"He's a Republican, but tough crap; I don't care if he's a Republican, he's not the right candidate," Tancredo said.
Tancredo confirmed to CNN that until now he was willing to withdraw his third party candidacy if—and only if—Maes was willing to drop out of the race and allow the party to replace him with another candidate.
"He can't win," Tancredo said of Maes. "He's not a credible candidate."
But Maes' communications director, Nate Strauch, said the Republican candidate has "flatly rejected" Tancredo's offer.
"If Tom Tancredo wants to affect the governor's race, he needs to go through the proper nomination process," Strauch said. "Dan Maes has rejected this culture of backroom deals from the start, and he certainly won't be changing that philosophy for a third-party candidate."
With that, Tancredo said he's no longer willing to withdraw from the race and has raised close to $100,000 for his independent bid.
Tancredo is a former five-term Republican congressman who became well known for his fierce anti-illegal immigration stance. He ran for president in 2008 as a Republican but joined the American Constitution Party this year. His candidacy could divide the Republican vote, giving Democrat John Hickenlooper – the mayor of Denver – a walk to victory.
"A lot of people blame me for the situation because I'm in the race," Tancredo said. "But as I explained to them, this was a disaster before I even came."
"I also believe in my heart it's easier for me to win a three person race than for Dan [Maes] to win a two person race," he added.
Maes has come under fire for his lack of political experience – he’s never held public office – and for being slapped with a number of campaign financial violations.
Two Colorado Republican sources told the Denver Post that the Republican Governors Association would not fund advertisements in the state to help Maes win election. And when Mitt Romney announced six Colorado endorsements on Thursday, Maes' name was left off the list.
Tancredo has heavily criticized Maes for his characterization of his business career and his choice of lieutenant governor, former Colorado state Rep. Tambor Williams.
"He just picked a lieutenant governor candidate who was the most pro-choice member of the legislature and he claims to be a strong pro-life person," the former presidential candidate said. "He's a total fraud.
When Williams was a state legislator, she voted to essentially kill a bill that would ban partial-birth abortions. When Maes announced her as his running mate on Tuesday, she was asked to clarify her position.
"I will probably say I am pro-life, with the exceptions that we have come to respect…the life of the mother, rape, incest," Williams said, according to Fox affiliate KDVR. "I think there are times when pro-life has to give way to the best of possible choices, and they're never, ever easy."
Strauch denied that Williams is pro-choice and suggested Tancredo would be better off attacking Hickenlooper.
"If Tom insists on continuing his quixotic campaign, the least he could do is train fire on the Democrat in this race, a man who never met a tax increase he didn't like. Tambor Williams is a well-respected, pro-life conservative, and no amount of hot air from a third-party candidate will change that," Strauch said.
Tancredo also denied online speculation that he might offer the lieutenant governor slot to conservative blogger Michelle Malkin.
"Well she could take the top spot if she wants to run," Tancredo joked. "I'll be her lieutenant governor, she's a dear friend," but there's no truth to the rumors.