We were saddened to hear of the passing of political "Godfather" Paul Sandoval this afternoon, just reported by Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post. When Sandoval went into Hospice a few weeks ago we reached out to an old and unlikely friend of Sandoval's, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, for a comment that we said we'd release upon Sandoval's passing. 

Here is what he wrote:

In politics, there are a few times and a few people you look back on and recognize that even in that rough and tumble world there are moments when it all seems worth the effort.

Interestingly these moments are not what you would expect. They are not the times you won a race or even a debate. They were the times your path crossed with that of someone with an exemplary character and charm. Someone who you know, if your paths never crossed again, had made an indelible and positive impression on your life. Someone with whom your political disagreements were real but so was the warmth of true friendship.  

I will ever be grateful that Paul Sandoval's path and mine intersected nearly fifty years ago. So although they wont cross again in this life, my fervent hope is that they will in the next.

Sandoval and Tancredo went way back. They competed with each other in high school debate and worked at Elitch's in the summers. 

But for most of their lives they were on opposite sides of the political divide. 

Despite Sandoval's modest protestations that he was "just a tamale maker," Sandoval was a powerhouse Hispanic Democrat who helped launch the careers of many a politician, from former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Tancredo, a Republican, fought on the opposite side of the political battle, most vociferously on the issue of illegal immigration. He has been slandered as a racist by many Democrats for his positions, but not by Sandoval. 

As Sandoval told The Denver Post last year "You can say a lot of things about Tom Tancredo. Racist is not one of them. He just believes completely different. And that's OK."

Tancredo returned the compliment calling Sandoval the "perfect opponent" whom he defined as "someone you respect and admire for their clarity of thought and their honesty. You disagree with them entirely on the issue, but a perfect opponent, and that's the way I have always thought of him."

Here's to the "warmth of true friendship." Rest in peace, Paul Sandoval.