Five days before Election Day, election forecast blog FiveThirtyEight predicted incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton had a nearly 90 percent chance of winning the election and keeping his seat.
Sure enough, the Republican was elected to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District for his fourth term by an 8 percent margin over his Democrat challenger Diane Mitsch Bush. Now, Tipton may faces a new challenge: He’s returning to a Democrat-led House after a wave of districts nationwide went blue.
Tipton, however, told The Durango Herald he is not concerned about the Democrats’ leadership because he has been able to garner bipartisan support for the bills he has authored and passed, including his May 2018 Education and Energy Act. The act relocated new federal mineral and geothermal lease royalties back to the states to fund public education.
“These are good, common sense bills for not only our communities but for the West, and we hope to be able to continue to garner that support and work with our colleagues,” Tipton said. “These issues, many of them, they shouldn’t be political. These are important for our communities, our families and our jobs.”
Tipton promised during his campaign to address key issues with taxes, jobs, public lands, benefits for veterans and more. He said he plans to focus on those issues during his two-year term as well as federal assistance for natural disasters.
“One big issue, obviously for our district, and we’re now continuing to see in California, are wildfires,” Tipton said. “We see some opportunities to not only be able to create forest health – to be able to prevent the catastrophic nature of wildfires going forward – but to be able to create some jobs as well. And to make sure we’re having provisions in place so that this natural disaster for the West is recognized by the federal government to be able to provide assistance.”
Tipton said he will work to pass legislation introduced in early September that will create a federal designation for areas affected by wildfires on federal land, ensuring disaster assistance in the form of aids and grants. Tipton said the flood damage he witnessed at the Durango North/Riverside KOA campground from the 416 Fire partly inspired the bill.
Tipton also reinforced his support for several other environmental policy bills that would address the prevention and aftermath of wildfires, including the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, which passed the House last year and aims to remove restrictive regulations that prevent the U.S. Forest Service from allocating more time and money to wildfire prevention.
The Farm Bill also includes reauthorization of the Landscape Scale Restoration Program, which Tipton said will allow the Forest Service to clean areas near public lands to prevent wildfires from breaking out.
Other issues Tipton plans to tackle include legislation on opioid addiction prevention and treatment; legislation to improve benefits for veterans; small business deregulation; water rights and expansion of broadband into rural areas.
Tipton previously included a provision he cosponsored with Colorado U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner, a Republican, and Michael Bennet, a Democrat, in the sweeping opioid bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in late October. Their ALTO Act established a permanent version of the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative Pilot, in which alternative painkillers were used and encouraged instead of opioids in hospitals.
“There’s still a long road in front of everybody in our communities impacted by the opioid and heroin crisis,” Tipton said. “We’re seeing some real movement now in that we’re creating public awareness. … To be able to get resources back to our community for mental health and for treatment, this will be a long-term initiative, one that will not be solely solved by the federal government.”
Tipton will continue to host roundtables with families affected by opioid addiction and with veterans in Colorado to get input from constituents.
He will also continue to work on issues he addressed in his last term. He said he is grateful for the support he received during the election cycle throughout the district, especially from Pueblo and Huerfano counties.
“We’re really appreciative of the support that we’ve received and look forward to continuing to work on priorities for the folks in our district,” he said.
Emily Martin is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.