DENVER – A Steamboat Springs Democrat has thrown her hat into the ring for the 2018 congressional race against U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colorado.
State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush announced Thursday that she intends to challenge Tipton for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat.
Bush said in a statement that her main motivation for a congressional run is Tipton’s vote on the American Health Care Act, which could take health insurance coverage away from an estimated 23 million Americans by 2026.
“The people of southern and western Colorado can no longer afford to be represented by someone who votes to take away our health care and line the pockets of rich folks,” she said.
Protection of the nation’s public lands, defeating attacks on employees’ rights and reforming the college loan system so it’s “easier not harder for those with student loans to pay them off” would also be her priorities in Congress, she said.
Bush added that during her five sessions in the Legislature and her six years as a Routt County commissioner, she has focused on working with Republicans on issues important to rural Colorado. Currently, she is the chairwoman of the Legislature’s House Transportation Committee and vice-chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee.
As an example of understanding the needs of rural Coloradans, Bush pointed to a series of transportation service grants she secured during her time as a county commissioner. The grants funded a pilot commuting program for people who worked in Steamboat but couldn’t afford to live in town.
“As you well know, in most of our mountain communities a lot of people can’t afford to live where the jobs are and they are commuting on treacherous roads, and I was able to get the South Routt Vanpool Service established and running,” she said.
She highlighted work she has done across the aisle in the Legislature, including with Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose.
This includes measures to cut red tape for small hydroelectric producers and a defeated effort to defray the cost of health insurance for Coloradans who fall into the gray area between qualifying for government subsidies and being able to afford private insurance.
In 2017, Bush was a driving force behind House Bill 1242, the Legislature’s major transportation funding overhaul measure, which would have asked voters to approve the use of a sales tax increase and existing state funds to generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually over the next 20 years to fix Colorado’s roads.
HB 1242 was eventually killed by fiscally conservative Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee, despite sponsorship from Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City.
Bush said she hopes to bring the same focus and dedication she has brought to the people of Routt and Eagle counties to the nation’s capital if elected in 2018.
“It’s time to turn Congress into a body that works for the people, not against them,” she said.
As part of her campaign, Bush will hold a series of town hall-style meetings, starting with one in Pueblo on Thursday and a stop at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Durango Public Library.
The Durango meeting will consist of a brief statement from the Bush followed by an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about her history in politics and goals for Congress.