Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is hoping for a fourth term in Congress.
What was expected to be a sleepy 3rd Congressional District race has blossomed into a competitive contest, with Democrat Gail Schwartz hoping to unseat Tipton.
He also faces Libertarian Gaylon Kent at a time when frustration with party politics has reached a new high.
Tipton has been hit especially hard by Schwartz and outside interests on the issue of public lands, with claims made through advertising and remarks that Tipton wants to privatize those lands in an effort to sell them off.
“She’s not telling the truth and she knows it,” Tipton said of Schwartz’s claims.
“Not once have I said sell off public lands, or sponsored or written legislation to sell off public lands.”
The Tipton campaign, meanwhile, has hit Schwartz for being a foe to coal, pointing to measures she supported in the Legislature as a state senator that mandated a renewable energy standard and required some Front Range coal-fired plants to burn natural gas.
If Tipton wins re-election, he would head back to a Congress that most Americans believes is gridlocked and dysfunctional.
But Tipton, a 59-year-old small businessman from Cortez, says he has risen above Congressional blockades, passing 11 bills through the House with bipartisan support.
“We’ve been able to reach across the aisle and garner bipartisan support for legislation that is good for the 3rd Congressional District and Colorado,” Tipton said.
As for not all of his bills making it through the process, “We are not the sole determinant of legislation,” Tipton explained, placing blame on the Senate.
Tipton said he is seeking re-election so he can focus on jobs and the economy. Having grown up on the Western Slope, he believes the sprawling congressional district is seeing some of its worst struggles in years.
Tipton’s solutions to solve a stagnant economy include expanding access to capital and reducing regulations – which includes protecting water rights – so that businesses can flourish.
“Businesses are at a loss with the avalanche of regulations that are coming down. It’s hitting our small businesses, it’s increasing their costs,” Tipton said.
As for Schwartz, his Democratic opponent, Tipton said, “I never try to tear down anybody else to build myself up.”
But Tipton acknowledged that he and his opponent have a “very different approach.”
“With all of the above (energy), let’s let the marketplaces choose – let’s create jobs and put people back to work,” Tipton said, adding that coal should be in the mix.
“We have more small businesses shutting down than there are new business startups,” Tipton said. “People aren’t feeling optimistic. We have not felt the economic recovery.”