DENVER – A 27-year-old recent law school graduate is hoping to pull off a feat – knock incumbent Scott Tipton out in a Republican primary in the 3rd Congressional District.
But Alex Beinstein is facing an uphill battle ahead of the June 28 primary, despite making the ballot with 40 percent of the delegate vote at the April district assembly.
Tipton, 59, is well-established, with powerful supporters along the sprawling district, which includes most of the Western Slope and southern portions of the Eastern Plains.
Tipton has fought for rural issues, including protecting farmers and ranchers from federal regulations – such as a water rule that aims to expand oversight over smaller bodies of water – and holding the Environmental Protection Agency accountable in the wake of last year’s catastrophic Gold King Mine spill.
He also has the advantage of name recognition.
Tipton says of his young aspiring opponent, “We take every election seriously. What differences he’s trying to bring up, people know where we stand on those issues.”
Beinstein has painted Tipton as a politician who is in the hands of big donors, who has lost his way when it comes to the Constitution and preserving conservative values.
He attacked Tipton for supporting the Every Student Succeeds Act last year, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, and voting in 2013 for the “Ryan-Murray” federal budget, which was viewed as a spending compromise.
Tipton responded, “As we go down the list, it’s interesting, there seems to be more common ground (with Beinstein).”
Behind the scenes, the Tipton campaign has not given much credence to Beinstein’s long-shot effort. They’ve been looking ahead to the November election, in which Democrat Gail Schwartz has vowed to unseat the third-term congressman.
Schwartz is not facing a primary. She reported raising more than $350,000 since announcing her candidacy on April 8.
Beinstein – with only about $4,060 in reported contributions compared to Tipton’s $487,074 – says voters should not count him out.
He has proved his ability to capture attention in the past, with a University of Chicago community radio show that held interviews with former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Supreme Court historian Jeff Shesol, to name a few.
He lives in his parent’s home in Carbondale, and he has relied on support from family and friends. But Beinstein’s shoestring budget hasn’t stopped him from traveling the district to speak to voters.
“Tipton gives off this impression that if you’re wealthy, he cares about you, but if you’re down on your luck, he doesn’t,” Beinstein said, referring to the high unemployment rate in pockets of the district.
Beinstein supports a tariff to create jobs, as well as decreasing corporate taxes.
Tipton appears to have a sharp focus on jobs.
“Every one of the bills that we’re putting forward try to have a focus on not expanding the imprint of the federal government... and to be able to create those opportunities in the private sector for families to be able to live to their highest and best potential.”
Beinstein has also focused on international issues, specifically the United States’ somewhat friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia, which he believes has led to the growth of violent extremist groups.
“Russia is right to know that Saudi Arabia is the true sponsor of terror,” Beinstein said. “We’re never going to solve the problem of Islamic terror until we go after its funding sources.”
Tipton agrees that terrorism is an important issue, but he said voters in the district are focused on challenges at home.
“The issues that the people are bringing up to me in our congressional district are about their families,” Tipton said. “They’re worried about their jobs, if they have one; they’re worried about getting a job.”