EMILY’s List, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest resource for women in politics,” is betting on former Eagle County state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush to do something that’s never been done in the 103-year history of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: be the first woman to win the seat.
In fact, since Socialist Edith Halcomb garnered a scant 2 percent of the vote in the 1918 election, only a handful of women have even sought election in the sprawling, mostly rural, suburban and Republican district that stretches from Pueblo in the south to Grand Junction on the Utah state line, including roughly the western two-thirds of Eagle County.
Women have not fared well in District 3 since it was first formed in 1915. Democrat Linda Powers lost to Republican Scott McInnis by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin in 1994, Independent Tisha Casida twice picked up small percentages of votes in 2012 and 2014, and Democrat Gail Schwartz lost decisively to incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, 54 percent to 40 percent, in 2016.
But Mitsch Bush, who quit the State House to take on Tipton, thinks 2018 will be different.
It’s important to keep in mind that, although EMILY’s List endorses women candidates for office, not just any woman candidate makes the list. To qualify for support from the organization means a candidate has met specific benchmarks that assess the viability of a candidate before they are endorsed–a process that helps the reputations of both the candidate and EMILY’s List as a credible endorser. The organization’s support doesn’t end with an endorsement, either, as candidates can tap into a pool of financial and in-kind support for their race.
All of which brings us back to the central question, whether Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush has what it takes to successfully challenge entrenched incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton. To her credit, Mitsch Bush dispatched her Democratic primary challenger Karl Hanlon by a much wider-than-expected margin. After years of disappointment in this district, Democrats do see the 2018 election cycle as the best chance of flipping Tipton’s seat that has existed since Tipton himself unseated a Democrat in the 2010 wave year.
As of this writing, there’s every reason for Democrats to be hopeful. There are two realistic locations where Democrats can advance the cause a House majority in Colorado–Rep. Mike Coffman’s district, and Tipton’s.
So if you’re ready to believe in a 2018 Democratic wave, here is where you’ll put that belief to the test.