DENVER – Republican incumbent Scott Tipton of Cortez was re-elected Tuesday night to the 3rd Congressional District, over a spirited challenge by Democrat Gail Schwartz.
What was supposed to be a sleepy race in the sprawling district turned into a battle, with Democrats and their allies targeting the race with a flood of mailers and advertising.
While the efforts breathed life into Schwartz’s campaign – at a time when Republicans were hoping for a lackluster race – it was still an uphill battle in the Republican-leaning district.
Tipton won 54.6 percent to 40.5 percent in the district-wide vote. In Montezuma County, Tipton garnered 7,436 votes, compared with Schwartz’s 4,524 and captured 59.5 percent of the local vote.
Schwartz declined to concede the race on Tuesday night, noting that several key counties, including Pueblo, still needed to be counted. On Wednesday morning, she stated in a news release, “I congratulate Scott Tipton, and hope that this campaign season has helped him appreciate the importance of bridging the political divide and bringing the residents of the 3rd Congressional District together on the many issues and values that unite us.”
The Tipton campaign said Tuesday night it was hitting its goals, and that it felt “very good” about its position in winning the race.
“In my next term, my number one priority will be creating economic opportunities for all Coloradans,” Tipton said in a news release late Tuesday. “Our economic recovery has largely been concentrated to the Front Range and I will continue to fight for solutions to create equitable growth that spreads into Southern and Western Colorado.”
It will be Tipton’s fourth term.
Schwartz, a former state senator from Crested Butte, announced her candidacy in April, meaning she had an uphill battle. But she posted impressive fundraising numbers, outpacing Tipton, despite her late entry into the race.
Schwartz took in about $1.5 million through Oct. 19, with $319,119 coming from political action committees.
Tipton – who has been fundraising since January 2015 – received about $1.6 million in contributions, with $715,405 coming from political action committees.
The House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, contributed about $2.2 million to advertising in support of Schwartz, and the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental organization, contributed about $127,000 to her advertising.
On the other side, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, invested about $1.6 million to defend Tipton.
Final financial disclosures are expected in the coming weeks.
With an onslaught of help from environmental groups, Schwartz focused heavily on Tipton’s record, especially as it comes to public lands. She alleged throughout the campaign that he worked to sell public lands to private interests, which Tipton vehemently denied.
Schwartz also painted Tipton as someone adding to gridlock in Washington.
Tipton’s camp hit Schwartz for her support of the Affordable Care Act, which is blamed for insurance rate increases in rural Colorado.
They also pointed out that Schwartz supported state legislation that took aim at the coal industry.
A spokesman for Schwartz said she would not comment on the race until the morning.