Democrat decision: Three candidates vie to try and unseat Rep. Tipton

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 4:47 PM

Democrats will have a difficult time unseating Scott Tipton in the competitive 3rd Congressional District, which includes the Western Slope and most of southern Colorado.

Tipton is seeking a fourth term, and an incumbent, even one from an a party in disorder in Washington, has a significant advantage.

The Democrat most prepared to be an effective voice in Washington is former two-term state representative Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs, who has been a member of Club 20’s executive board and who has taught full time at Colorado Mountain College.

She has degrees in sociology, including a doctorate, from the University of Minnesota.

Bush would advocate for all of the Democratic Party’s positions, including protecting the Affordable Care Act, extending Medicare with additional funding for rural costs and strengthening the Civil Rights Act. Adequate health care, for Bush, is a right. In the state house, she co-sponsored successful legislation allowing Dreamers to pay in-state tuition to public colleges.

She supports the multi-modal mix of transportation projects, and would protect net neutrality.

Bush’s more significant challenger is Routt County rancher and water lawyer Karl Hanlon, who sees a lack of progress on substantive issues in Washington.

Hanlon has been Steamboat’s legal counsel (his law degree is from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore.), and he wants to focus “on ideas not ideology,” and to be part of a group of Congress members who seek bipartisan cooperation and “move forward, not side to side.” He wants consistency and thoughtfulness in trade deals and coherent foreign policies. The country is relying on its military to too great a degree, says Hanlon, who also says he is not accepting political action committee or corporate money to campaign.

The third person in the race is Arn Menconi, a former two-term Eagle County Commissioner who ran for the Senate in 2016 as a member of the Green Party.

Menconi founded and led a youth services nonprofit and has described himself as “a social justice and anti-war activist.” He sees urgency in dealing with the climate crisis and supports Medicare for all.

Hanlon’s knowledge of water law would be very helpful, and his ranching life gives him credibility when it comes to environmental and public lands issues, but Bush’s accomplishments in the Legislature and participation in the Western Slope organization Club 20 are more significant.

In her presentations, Bush comes across as eager to make a difference and fearless, more than ready to apply her abundant energy.

Bush’s candidacy also has been endorsed by a who’s who of recent Democrat leaders, including former Sens. Ken Salazar and Mark Udall, and former Gov. Bill Ritter. She’s also endorsed by State Rep. Barbara McLachlan of Durango.

The Herald’s editorial board urges Democrats to vote for Diane Mitsch Bush for the 3rd Congressional District on the party’s primary ballot, which should reach voters this week by mail.