As the Grand Junction Sentinel reported exclusively this morning, popular Democratic state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs will challenge incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton in 2018, taking another high-profile shot at a congressional seat Tipton has held comfortably since winning election in 2010:
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Sentinel earlier this week, Mitsch Bush said she was running because she’s tired of seeing the expansive 3rd Congressional District operate “without a real representative,” referring to U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez who’s held the seat since 2011.
“A real representative actually listens,” Mitsch Bush said. “A real representative actually reads bills. A real representative understands the issues that we face. He’s not the representative that I would be.”
Mitsch Bush, who plans to resign her Colorado House seat soon so she can run for the Democratic Party nomination full time, said she’s tired of watching much of the Front Range prosper while seeing little economic improvement on the Western Slope and in southern Colorado.
Making that issue worse, she said, is the disproportionately high cost of health care in the district compared to metropolitan areas of the state. Mitsch Bush blamed Congress and others for making health care a political issue, and making decisions about it based on ideology rather than common sense. She said the current health care plan being debated in Washington, D.C., only will make the district’s health care costs increase, while at the same time taking away coverage for millions.
Tipton has held off several well-qualified challengers since winning his seat in the 2010 “Republican wave,” but we wouldn’t say that is particularly reflective of strength on Tipton’s part. Tipton was in the right place at the right time to be swept into office, and subsequent elections have been generally favorable to Republican incumbents. The thinking in this case is that the same dynamic that helped Tipton in 2010 could operate in reverse for Mitsch Bush in 2018. And it’s not just turnabout being fair play: many with experience with Mitsch Bush say she is not to be underestimated in her own right as a candidate for higher office either.
Given the history in this district, the best position for Democrats to take right now in this race would be optimism cautioned by the reality of Tipton’s political resilience. It’s fair to say that winning or losing in 2018 will have more factors in play than a candidate’s own performance, but candidates still have to bring their best game.
We’ll be watching the benchmarks in this race closely, and so will the national wonks.