New Poll Shows Pace, Tipton in Dead Heat

According to results of a poll released today by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Sal Pace is running neck-and-neck with incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton. From a news release:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today released a new Grove Insight poll that shows Sal Pace (CO-03) and Congressman Scott Tipton statistically tied. Despite being an incumbent, Congressman Tipton garners only 42 percent in the initial head to head vote while Pace is close behind with 39 percent.

Almost half, 46 percent, give Congressman Tipton a negative evaluation of his time in office and only 37 percent approve.

Anytime a poll is conducted by a partisan organization, you have to take the results with a certain amount of salt grains. But it’s unlikely that the numbers would be significantly different in either direction depending on the pollster.  


Rep. Tipton backs DC-based Club for Growth over Colorado Farmers

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: On Thursday Republican House Speaker John Boehner announced that there will be no attempt to pass a farm bill before the November elections.

Like most people, you probably don’t expect the House to do much of anything, but what makes this story problematic is that it counteracts Scott Tipton’s argument for withdrawing his support for a measure that would have put a Farm Bill on the House floor.

Either Tipton was lying when he said he pulled his support because he was told that there would be action on a Farm Bill “soon,” or Boehner just kicked him and his re-election campaign right in the ass.


Congressman Scott Tipton has ‘abruptly’ withdrawn his support for a ‘discharge petition’ that would have forced Floor action on the stalled Farm Bill, although he regularly professes support for the legislation when he is out stumping in his largely rural district.  

Numerous sources, including The Hill are reporting:

After supporting a discharge petition aimed at bypassing the GOP’s control of the House schedule, Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) on Friday abruptly withdrew their signatures.

Should the petition attract 218 signatures, the farm bill would come to the floor later this year. While that is highly unlikely, it is clear that GOP leaders view the possibility of mounting support for action on the farm measure as a political problem.

Tipton, who is in a competitive reelection race, and Ellmers on Friday walked to the well of the House floor and signed their names on the discharge petition.

Later on Friday, the freshman members returned to the same spot to strike their names.

Rep. Tipton on the stump supports Colorado farmers, and the Farm Bill, at least when he’s talking to them anyhow.

So what prompted Tipton to jettison the rural communities of Western Colorado and the San Luis Valley, at the last minute in spite of numerous promises otherwise, even as the Congressional calendar ticks down?   Follow me, readers, after the fold to see how Washington DC special interests won the day when Rep. Tipton had to choose between cash-flush lobbyists and Colorado constituents.  

Congressman Scott Tipton regularly talks up the importance of the Farm Bill when he is out and about his sprawling rural district.  Suddenly however when push came to shove and leadership was needed Congressman Tipton turned tail.  

Was it that ideologues threatened to extract political pain from any who dare stray from their orthodoxy?

It does so happen that in the intervening hours between signature and striking it the Club for Growth sent this out:  


Opposing Discharge Petition No. 0005 on the Farm Bill

The Club for Growth strongly opposes Discharge Petition No. 0005 that would force floor consideration of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (HR 6083), otherwise known as the farm bill.

A House member’s signature on this discharge petition, or any similar petition, will count heavily as an anti-growth action on the Club for Growth’s 2012 Congressional Scorecard.

So does that mean that the representative of Colorado’s Third Congressional District–a land spanning many agricultural zones from ranches to orchards to Olathe Sweet Corn and vineyards–no longer supports the Farm Bill as he has been telling farmers and local officials across his District?    

Not according to the Congressman’s contortionist, and spokesman, Josh Green who had this explanation, according to the article in The Hill:

Tipton spokesman Josh Green said that his boss made his point with the initial signature, and subsequently heard from leaders of their intention to move a farm measure.

“Congressman Tipton voted for the farm bill in committee and is doing everything he can to push for a floor vote. He added his name to the discharge petition to send a message that we need a farm bill. That message got attention, and shortly after adding his name, leadership assured Congressman Tipton that they would be taking action on the House floor in the near future to provide some certainty for the agriculture community,” Green said.

So, as Congress comes to an end–at least until it reconvenes in its end-of-year Lame Duck–Colorado’s farmers can just wait.  Sure, Rep. Tipton says its a priority, but the Club for Growth says he better not.  And guess who he listens to?  

Sal Pace Up With Second Campaign Ad

Democrat Sal Pace is up with his second ad of the campaign cycle in CD-3, and it’s another strong, personal message.

We’ve long said in this space that Pace has the best chance of any challenger in Colorado to unseat a sitting member of Congress. These are the type of ads that increase those odds.

Scott Tipton Defeats Scott Tipton in Tipton Faceoff

In late March, Republican Rep. Scott Tipton voted in favor of the House Republican Budget that would allow the interest rate for student loans to double in July.

Two days ago Tipton told the Denver newspaper that he was “looking forward” to trying to lower student loan interest rates.

So what would Tipton do today when the issue came up in Congress?

He voted against a measure that would have prevented the interest rate increase. From the DCCC (full release after the jump):

Tipton Voted Against a Plan to Prevent an Increase in Student Loan Interest Rates. On April 26, 2012, House Republicans voted against considering the Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012. The measure would keep interest rates on need-based student loans at 3.4 percent in 2013, saving borrowers an average of $1,000 in loan repayment costs. Costs for the measure would have been offset by ending tax breaks for Big Oil.

It’s one thing to vote twice on allowing student loan rates to double, but it’s another problem entirely to talk out of the other side of your mouth while you do it. Sometimes we almost wonder if Tipton wants to lose in November.

Today, Representative Scott Tipton (CO-03) blocked consideration of a bill that would prevent student loan rates from doubling on July 1st for Colorado students and families. Tipton already voted for the Republican budget that allows student loan rates to double and today’s vote would cost 166,693 Colorado students and families with student loans another $130,075,601. Two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt and the average college graduate has $25,000 in student loan debt.

“Representative Scott Tipton refused to ensure that student loan rates don’t double for Colorado students and families on July 1st,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Tipton would rather protect Big Oil subsidies even if it means doubling student loan rates for 166,693 Colorado students and families. Instead of investing in America’s future and allowing students to get a fair shot at an affordable college education that helps them get a good-paying job, Tipton chose higher interest rates for students and more tax breaks for Big Oil companies making record profits.”

The costs of preventing the student loan rates from doubling would be paid for by ending tax breaks for Big Oil companies.


Tipton Voted Against a Plan to Prevent an Increase in Student Loan Interest Rates. On April 26, 2012, House Republicans voted against considering the Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012. The measure would keep interest rates on need-based student loans at 3.4 percent in 2013, saving borrowers an average of $1,000 in loan repayment costs. Costs for the measure would have been offset by ending tax breaks for Big Oil. [H.Res. 631, Vote #182, 4/26/12; Rep. Tierney Press Release, 4/25/12; HR 4816, 112th Congress]

Tipton’s Plan Would Allow the Interest Rate for Student Loans to Double. “There was wide agreement among members of Congress Wednesday that loans and grants are important, but there were questions about the $6 billion Obama proposal that would hold interest rates constant next year. Ryan’s budget would allow the rate to double as planned.” [Inside Higher Ed, 3/29/12]

“House GOP leaders are already on record this year opposing the student loan benefit. The GOP’s 2013 budget proposal, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would have returned the Stafford rate to 6.8 percent” [The Hill, 4/25/12]

“In the House, which recently adopted a budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) which did not envision extending the lower loan rate, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Wednesday that Democrats and Republicans were working on the issue.” [Washington Post, 4/25/12]

166,693 Colorado Students Had Loans in the 2012-2013 Academic Year.  [Education and Workforce Committee, accessed 4/26/12]

Tipton Voted for the House Republican Budget. On March 29, 2012, Tipton voted in favor of the House Republican budget. [H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]

Fake Reporter, Call Your Office

Hilarious–Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reports today:

Unemployment and gas prices running high? Republican feels “good”: The quote of the day comes from the capaign manager of Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado, who’s facing a very tough challenge in a race that is a top priority for Democrats. The campaign manager, Michael Fortney, had this to say to the Colorado Observer:

Fortney expressed confidence in Tipton’s chances, although he stopped short of predicting victory outright this fall. “With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good,” Fortney said.

Usually it’s Dems who are accusing the GOP of rooting for national failure for political gain, but here you have one of the most expicit declarations yet from a Republican that the two are linked. [Pols emphasis]

When word of reaction to these remarks made its way back to the home front today, as the Colorado Independent’s Troy Hooper reports, something fairly unusual happened:

The Colorado Observer on Saturday quoted Tipton’s campaign manager, Michael Fortney, saying: “With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good.” Then today, hours after Pace demanded Tipton apologize for the remarks, the quote was heavily edited with meaty clarifications added.

The website now quotes Fortney saying: “Voters in the 3rd District are rejecting Obama’s policies that have led to gas prices doubling, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved. We feel good about our chances.”

An email sent to the Colorado Observer was not returned. No phone number is listed on its website.

Pace campaign spokesman Chad Obermiller said he can’t reach anyone at the Observer, either.

“It’s laughable how much the quote’s changed. It’s completely different,” he said in a phone interview, later adding: “I hope anyone covering a race of this profile would employ journalistic integrity.”

The thing is, once this magnificently embarrassing quote has been quoted all over the place, including the Washington Post, it’s kind of problematic to “revise” it. Well, maybe the Washington Post could get away with that if they prominently noted the change in boldface as an update or a correction. For a reputationless right-wing “news” site staffed by usual suspect GOP staffers to extensively revise this quote after it became controversial is something else entirely.

You shouldn’t be surprised to discover that what the Colorado Observer and its stable of former GOP campaign staffers who call themselves “journalists” practices isn’t “journalism,” but this kind of dishonesty convinces you they aren’t really trustworthy even as a partisan mouthpiece.

For either side, apparently.

Somebody Woke Up Scott Tipton

Republican Rep. Scott Tipton was off to an odd start in his bid for re-election at the close of 2011, with fundraising numbers so poor that he actually spent more money in Q4 last year than he raised.

Someone apparently explained to Tipton that it’s not a good idea to let your Democratic challenger continue to raise more money than you, because Tipton finally responded with his first respectable fundraising quarter since being elected in 2010. Tipton pulled in $378,000 in Q1 compared to $280,000 from Democrat Sal Pace. That Q1 haul for Pace was impressive on its own, which made it all the more crucial for Tipton to post his own strong numbers.

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Huge Fundraising Quarter for Pace

Democrat Sal Pace has separated himself from other Congressional challengers in Colorado as the most likely to oust an incumbent in November. Today his campaign announced that he had raised $280,000 in Q1, which qualifies as the most successful quarter of any CD-3 challenger since the 2000 redistricting (the previous record was John Salazar’s $153,177 raised in Q1 2004.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton has thus far shown weak fundraising numbers, though his Q1 results are not yet available. Given Tipton’s multitude of policy problems, he can’t afford — literally — to let Pace keep winning the fundraising battle.

Full press release from Pace campaign after the jump.

Pace Raises Over $280,000 In First Quarter,

Sets New Fundraising Record

Pueblo, CO – In the most recent fundraising quarter, Congressional Candidate Sal Pace raised over $280,000, setting yet another record fundraising quarter for a challenger in Colorado’s Third District. He will also report over $520,000 in cash on hand, demonstrating his ability to compete this November. In the quarter Pace had over 1,400 individual donors, with 90 percent of those contributions coming from Coloradans, demonstrating the growing grassroots support and momentum of Pace’s campaign.

“Our fundraising shows that people are fed up with the partisan politics that have gridlocked Washington and our message of commonsense representation is spreading across the district,” said Sal Pace. “We are going to continue to run a campaign that focuses on jobs and a strong economy, not the partisan ideology that the incumbent has supported in Washington D.C.”

Pace went on to note, “contributions soared after our opponent voted to cut Medicare benefits in order to pay for a special interest tax break for multi-millionaires.”

This record-setting haul occurred despite that the Pace for Congress campaign did not accept contributions from registered Colorado lobbyists or organizations with affiliates who lobby before the Colorado State House since the legislative session commenced on January 11th.

Details about Pace’s Fourth Quarter fundraising numbers:

     1464 individuals contributed to Pace’s campaign in the first quarter, bringing the campaign total to more than 2700 individual donors since June 1st;

      90 percent of all individual donors reside in Colorado;

      More than 88% of all individual contributors gave $200 or less to the Pace campaign;

Historical Overviews of CD-3 Non-Incumbents First Quarter Raised Totals

      Scott Tipton raised $140,767 in 2010*

      Wayne Wolf raised $2,966 in 2008

      Scott Tipton raised $68,286 in 2006

      John Salazar raised $153,177 in 2004*

*Was successfully elected in general election.

UPDATE: How Dare You Do That Thing That I Did

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Charles Ashby of the Sentinel responds today with a blog update citing votes which at least partly back up his original contention that Rep. Scott Tipton voted against funding for the senior homestead exemption. A Democratic-sponsored amendment to fund half the exemption in 2010 was voted down by Tipton in addition to his votes against the Senate bill, ultimately enacted, completely suspending the exemption until this year:

The bill came forward on second reading the day before the last day of the 2010 session. At that moment the bill was to suspend the entire exemption, $94 million a year for two years.

The Rep. Jim Reisberg, D-Greeley, offered an amendment to fund half of the exemption. Along with him, Republicans spoke in favor of it, some Democrats spoke against it. Then Rep. Kathlene Curry, D-Gunnison, was in the chair, and approved it on an overwhelming “division” vote of legislators. That vote required supporters of the amendment to stand and be counted. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle did so.

Moments later, even though the bill at that point funded half of the exemption, Republicans spoke out and then voted against it.

The following day, the last day of the session when it came up for thirds, Reisberg offered a third-reading amendment that corrected a drafting mistake in the second reading amendment from the day before. The amendment was essentially the same thing. It passed unanimously, 65-0, with Tipton and McNulty and everyone voting for it.

Moments later, Tipton and the Republicans voted against the bill, a bill that, at the time of that vote, funded half of the exemption for seniors. [Pols emphasis]

What say you, Polsters? We don’t want the complexities of these fleeting proposals and procedural votes to confuse the issue, but if Ashby can correctly state that Tipton voted against the exemption because he rejected Rep. Jim Riesberg’s 50% compromise, we have no desire to service Frank McNulty by arguing against it. Above all, we strive to be accurate.

It occurs to us that you could also view this as GOP insistence on 100% netting them 0%, which we suppose would allow Tipton and McNulty technical accuracy, but doesn’t look good.


UPDATE: Apparently Ashby was wrong in his blog post that Tipton voted for the same bill. Maybe Tipton will get some mileage out of attacking Pace over the senior property tax exemption — which might help him with senior citizens angry over Tipton’s votes to privatize Medicare.

For more on the uneven relationship between the GOP and the senior homestead exemption through the years, as noted by State Bill Colorado, Tim Hoover’s 2010 story is worth a read.

But our record of a newspaper’s blog post that, from everything we can see, needed correcting several days ago is now corrected. Thanks as always to our vigilant readers.

One of the primary reasons that CD-3 is considered a potential Democratic pick-up in 2012 is because of the general ineptitude of freshman Rep. Scott Tipton, who excels at tripping over his own feet.

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Sentinel recently noted another gaffe by Tipton as he tried to attack Democratic challenger Sal Pace:

In a campaign email [this week], GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton chastises state Rep.Sal Pace, D-Pueblo and his 3rd Congressional Distirct challenger, for “consistently” voting to end the state’s senior property tax exemption…

…While Pace did vote along with other lawmakers in 2009 and 2010 not to fund the property tax break during those years because of the recession, so did Tipton [Pols emphasis], at least in 2010.

That year, when Cortez Republican still served in the Colorado Legislature, he voted along with all 65 members of the House to approve SB190. Unlike the 2009 measure that suspended the break for one year, the 2010 bill did so for two years.

Good work, team Tipton! Way to draw attention to an issue that is going to damage your own campaign as well!

Remind Us Why This Makes Sense, Congressmen?

Yesterday Republican Reps. Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton both voted in favor of a budget that would all but destroy Medicare, and we’re having trouble understanding the political strategy here. As Talking Points Memo explains:

For the second year in a row, Republicans voted Thursday to effectively dismantle Medicare – this time, just over seven months before a presidential election. And Democrats are salivating at the political opportunity, eager to hang the vote around the neck of the party’s presidential nominee and its candidates in tough congressional races.

“A year ago, nobody was talking about Democrats having a shot at the House. Now we’re talking about it,” a Democratic leadership aide told TPM after the vote, a party-line 228-191 that didn’t win a single Dem.

The blueprint by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is similar to his controversial Medicare plan last year, in that it ends the health insurance guarantee for seniors and replaces the program with a subsidized insurance-exchange system. Unlike last year’s plan, seniors can buy into traditional Medicare as a sort-of public option, and the vouchers it provides are more generous…

…As it turns out, Democrats would love to fight the battle on those terms. They’re expected to make Medicare a focal point of their election message, portraying Republicans as seeking to “break the Medicare guarantee” in order to fund large tax cuts for the rich.

“Our main focus will be on Medicare,” the Democratic aide said. “There’s clear evidence that seniors are very worried about what Republicans are doing with Medicare. And we want people to know that this is who they are in a nutshell. There’s no wiggle room for them.”

Both Coffman and Tipton voted for the “Ryan Plan” in 2011 as well, and we’re just as confounded by this vote as we were last year. While these votes may make the Tea Party happy, it’s not going to go over well with moderate and Independent senior citizens. The votes are particularly problematic for Tipton, who pledged as a candidate in 2010 that he would protect Medicare (see press release after the jump from the campaign of Democrat Sal Pace). Tipton is going to have a tough time holding off Pace in CD-3, and pissing off senior citizens isn’t a smart idea in our book.

As for Coffman, we can only assume that he is casting these votes with an eye towards a 2014 Senate race against Democrat Mark Udall; while these votes will certainly be dredged up in a general election against Udall, Coffman might figure he needs to position himself firmly on the right in order to fend off primary challengers. Democrat Joe Miklosi will make as much hay out of this as he can in his challenge to Coffman this fall, but at this point it doesn’t look like Miklosi’s campaign will have enough strength to really make a run at the CD-6 incumbent.  

Scott Tipton Again Breaks Promise To Seniors By Voting To End The Medicare Guarantee

Today, for the second time since being elected, Congressman Tipton broke his 2010 campaign promise to never cut or privatize Medicare. Tipton voted for the controversial House budget that would end the Medicare guarantee and raise health care costs for seniors while giving people making over $1 million per year a $394,000 tax cut.

In contrast, just days ago days ago, his opponent Sal Pace – with over 1,000 other Coloradans – promised to protect Medicare for our seniors.

“Even though while campaigning in 2010 my opponent said ‘no cuts, no privatization’ to Medicare we are seeing once again where his priorities are” said Pace. “Getting the deficit under control is important, but we have to do it in a reasonable fashion. Eliminating benefits for seniors and replacing it with a voucher program that would more than double what seniors currently pay is not the way to do it.”

The House proposal supported by Tipton according to the AARP, would “simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage” and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found Medicare benefits “would likely shrink.”



In his 2010 campaign, Tipton promised never to privatize Social Security or Medicare. “I’ll never put our seniors’ future at risk. No cuts, no privatization, and no scaring our seniors just to try and win this election.” [American Spectator, 10/15/10]

Tipton Voted for the House Republican Budget. On March 29, 2012, Tipton voted in favor of the House Republican budget. H.Con.Res. 112, Vote # 151, 3/29/12]Congressional Budget Office: Ryan’s Plan Would Likely Shrink Medicare Benefits, Increase Number Of Uninsured. “Medicare benefits would likely shrink under Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) latest proposal, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday. The budget office also said the number of people without health insurance could be ‘much higher’ under Ryan’s plan because it would repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. Ryan’s Medicare plan would convert some of the program’s funding into subsidies for private insurance. Seniors could choose between the traditional single-payer program or a private plan.” [The Hill, 3/20/11

AARP: Ryan’s Plan Would Increase Health Care Costs for Older Americans. AARP CEO Addison Barry Rand wrote to Members of Congress on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution. In the letter, Rand wrote: “this proposal simply shifts these high and growing costs onto Medicare beneficiaries, and it then shifts even higher costs of increased uninsured care onto everyone else […] By creating a ‘premium support’ system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage — a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” [AARP Letter, 3/21/12]

House Republican Budget Would Give People Making Over $1 Million Per Year a $394,000 Tax Cut. “New analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC) finds that people earning more than $1 million a year would receive $265,000 apiece in new tax cuts, on average, on top of the $129,000 they would receive from the Ryan budget’s extension of President Bush’s tax cuts.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/27/12; see also Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Table T12-0078 and T10-0132]

Somebody Wake Up Scott Tipton; Pace Outraises Incumbent

Republican Rep. Scott Tipton continues to underwhelm in his bid to win re-election in CD-3. According to his fundraising report for Q4 filed late yesterday, Tipton raised $176,532 in the last three months of 2011. That’s a pretty weak quarter for a targeted incumbent, but what’s even stranger is that Tipton spent $435 more than he raised ($176,967 in expenditures for Q4). Tipton’s campaign spent $11,388 on media production, which we assume is for future TV ads, but the bulk of his money was spent on fundraising, via consultants and events. You don’t need to be handy with an abacus to know that you’re not getting a good investment when you spend more than you earn on a service.

Democrat Sal Pace, on the other hand, outraised Tipton in Q4 ($206,482) and managed his money much better, with only $77,678 in expenditures.

All told, Tipton begins 2012 with a total cash-on-hand amount of $510,384. Pace starts the year with $341,430 in the bank.

Tipton has been a bit of a mess in his first year in Congress, sticking his foot in his mouth on several occasions. And while recent polling shows that he holds an early lead over Pace, Tipton is not popular in CD-3. Maybe Tipton will wake up in Q1 and post numbers that show national Republicans that he is truly prepared to fight for his seat; if he doesn’t change the momentum in this race soon, the NRCC may decide that they don’t want to expend a lot of resources helping a candidate who isn’t helping himself.  

Pace Sets Fundraising Record in Tipton Challenge

The campaign for Democrat Sal Pace announced today that the former House Minority Leader raised more than $200,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 and enters 2012 with the strongest fundraising start of any non-incumbent in the history of CD-3.

Pace has raised more than $465,000 since announcing his campaign on June 1, 2011. By comparison, incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton had collected $109,981 by the start of 2010; Tipton defeated incumbent Rep. John Salazar in November of that year.

The strong fundraising start for Pace should keep him among the top tier of Democratic challengers in 2012 — particularly if Tipton continues to underperform in the money department.

Full press release follows…

Congressional Candidate Sal Pace Raises Over $200,000 In Fourth Quarter; Enters Election Year With Most Raised By Any Non-Incumbent in CD-3 History

(Pueblo) – Sal Pace raised more than $200,000 towards his campaign for Colorado’s Third Congressional District during the most recent fundraising quarter, which ended December 31st.   Contributions this past quarter came from nearly 1,000 individuals and was his strongest quarter to date in this race, demonstrating expanding momentum for his campaign.

“I am honored to have such a strong base of support from our communities in these tough economic times,” said Pace.  “I understand I am the underdog in this race, but our grassroots support demonstrates that our campaign is gaining traction every day, and that people want practical solutions and commonsense leadership in these trying times.”

Since announcing his campaign on June 1st, Sal Pace has raised more than $465,000.  This is the most raised by a non-incumbent in the Third Congressional District during the twelve months prior to election year.  

Historical Overview of CD-3 Non-Incumbents and Their Off-Year Raised Totals

Sal Pace raised more than $465,000 in 2011

Scott Tipton raised $109,981 in 2009*

Wayne Wolf raised $3,389 in 2007

Scott Tipton raised $171,173 in 2005

John Salazar raised $62,845 in 2003*

The campaign will report having over $335,000 cash-on-hand headed into the election year.

Report Statistics:

991 individuals contributed to Pace’s campaign in the fourth quarter, bringing the campaign total to more than 1,850 individual donors since June 1st;

Nearly 91 percent of all individual donors reside in Colorado;

Three-quarters of all individual contributors gave $200 or less to the Pace campaign;

The average individual contribution was $125.

 *Was the successful candidate in the following year.

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Tea Party Promises and Empty Talking Points May Doom Neville

Republican Scott Tipton got elected to Congress in 2010 in part by saying pretty much whatever the hell he wanted to say without any real eyebrow raising from GOP supporters. But since he hasn’t been able to come close to accomplishing, well, anything he promised, the right-wing and Tea Party factions of the GOP are pretty pissed off.

This is a lesson that new Republican state senator Tim Neville may want to remember. Neville upset state Rep. Jim Kerr last week for the right to replace Mike Kopp, who resigned from SD-22 to spend more time with his family. Neville seems destined to face a primary next summer, which could be as nasty as the 2006 battle that got Kopp elected over the appointed Kiki Traylor, and if he does, he’ll probably half some serious ‘splaining to do. Neville won the vacancy by promising unicorns and rainbows to the GOP faithful, as The Colorado Statesman notes:

He promised to “pass a Right to Work law in this state,” said it was time to “put an end to illegal immigration in this state” and vowed to stop “Gov. John Hickenlooper’s sanctuary city policy.” He also promised: “I will fight to protect our rights to keep and bear arms” and pledged to “oppose all tax increases, even those disguised as fees.”

Uh, yeah. Good luck with all that. Kerr was more judicious in his promises, in large part because he’s been in the legislature for nearly 8 years and has an idea of what you can actually accomplish; his reluctance to promise the moon may have cost him the vacancy appointment, but at least he wasn’t going to throw out empty platitudes. Come next summer, plenty of potential Republican candidates will be able to point to Neville’s nonsense with extravagant promises of their own…and this will all start back up again, and again, and again.

Because of the timing of Kopp’s exit, SD-22 will see consecutive elections in 2012 and 2014, which opens up what could be a long and vicious cycle of Tea Party talking points nonsense. Kopp, in fact, seemed resigned to at least a primary in 2012:

“I don’t want to prognosticate too early, however, the maps I saw of this district lead me to believe the real fight will be a family feud, a primary type of fight,” he said, and then he hastened to add: ” I’m not saying there will be, I’m not encouraging that, but if there’s going to be a fight, that’s where it’s going to be.”

We wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Neville, like Traylor in 2006, only lasted one session in the legislature before being ousted in a primary (although for entirely different reasons than Traylor, who was a moderate candidate). Republican supporters were apparently enamored with Neville’s “leadership” in the 2011 Jefferson County School Board races, oddly ignoring the fact that the two Republican-backed candidates were absolutely destroyed at the ballot box. Preston Branaugh and Jim Powers were both awful candidates who ran awful campaigns; if Neville was indeed instrumental in that fiasco, it doesn’t bode well for his 2012 prospects.  

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“If Tipton Is the Umpire, He’s Just Been Paid”

Campaign finance issues have derailed many a campaign in recent years, and while this latest issue with Republican Rep. Scott Tipton isn’t anything close to a game-changer, it certainly doesn’t make him look very good.

Tipton recently organized a meeting between oil company SG Interests and The Thompson Divide Coalition, a group of citizens in Carbondale opposed to a plan for drilling in the area. So what’s the problem? Tipton apparently accepted $10,600 in donations in the third quarter of 2011 from executives, investors and other folks connected to SG Interests. David Donnelly of Public Campaigns, a national nonprofit interested in campaign finance reform, told The Aspen Times that Tipton’s organizing this meeting was like a baseball umpire taking money before a World Series game. “If Tipton is the Ump, he’s just been paid,” said Donnelly.

That’s a nice quote for a future TV ad, wouldn’t you say?


Sal Pace Raises $165,000 in Q3

Democrat Sal Pace announced today that his campaign for congress in CD-3 raised $165,000 in the third quarter of this year. Those are strong, though not overwhelming numbers, but it’s all relative depending on Rep. Scott Tipton’s fundraising; Tipton brought in just $147,184 in Q2, and if he maintains that poor level of fundraising, then Pace will be in good shape.

Full press release after the jump.

Sal Pace raised $165,000 towards his campaign for Colorado’s Third Congressional District during the most recent fundraising quarter, which ended September 30th.   Pace raised more in his first full fundraising quarter than the incumbent, Scott Tipton, did in his last complete quarter.  Tipton raised $147,184 in the second quarter of this year.

“It is evident, even in these troubled economic times, that residents of the district want a congressman who will implement commonsense and practical solutions that will bring jobs back to our communities and help turn around the economy,” said Pace.  “I understand I am the underdog in this race, but our grassroots support demonstrates that our campaign is gaining traction every day.”

Since announcing his campaign on June 1st, Sal Pace has raised more than a quarter-million dollars.  With three months still remaining in the fundraising year, this is the most raised by a non-incumbent in the Third Congressional District during the twelve months prior to election year.  The campaign will report having $212,000 cash on hand headed into the final fundraising quarter of 2011.

In contrast, in the year prior to winning the seat, Tipton only raised $109,981 during the entirety of 2009.

Report Statistics:

– 917 individuals contributed to Pace’s campaign in the third quarter, bringing the campaign total to more than 1,200 individual donors since June 1st;

– Ninety-two percent of all individual donors reside in Colorado;

– More than three-quarters of all individual contributors gave an average of $100 or less to the Pace campaign.

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“Tipton’s Got To Go”

House Majority PAC is up with a fresh TV spot attacking vulnerable Colorado freshman Rep. Scott TiptonPolitico:

House Majority PAC, a so-called Super PAC that can take unlimited contributions, has made a six-figure ad buy across three far-flung House districts. The group is targeting freshmen Republican Reps. Scott Tipton of Colorado, Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Chip Cravaack of Minnesota.

“The American people are disgusted with House Republicans’ misguided priorities and votes to throw middle-class families under the bus,” House Majority PAC executive director Alixandria Lapp will say in a statement set to be released later Friday. “Whether it’s ethics problems or voting for tax loopholes to keep corporate profits sky high, protecting profits for companies that ship jobs to China, or ending Medicare as we know it, House Republicans have plenty to answer for back home this August recess.”

The new ad airing against Tipton features a clip of the Colorado Republican saying on the House floor that “once you come to this place … it seems to kind of cloud your vision,” juxtaposed with reports that his House office spent money on companies tied his nephew.

“You don’t say?” a narrator intones…

Tipton had some success getting conservative AM talk-radio stations to yank House Majority PAC’s last ad against him–in our opinion ridiculously, hinging on a semantic quibble over whether the company owned by Tipton’s nephew (and where his daughter works) was “hired” by his office or “just a contractor.” Either way, in this latest ad Tipton is simply “channeling” those funds to his family’s business, neatly eliminating the quibble.

Tipton Gets Sunny (But Wrong) Outlook from Chieftain on Fundraising

Yesterday The Pueblo Chieftain had an odd article by the normally more-astute Peter Roper that was a rundown of Republican Rep. Scott Tipton’s second quarter fundraising efforts. See if you see the strangeness:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton isn’t wasting any time in pulling together a campaign warchest for his 2012 re-election bid to hold the 3rd Congressional District – even as national Democratic committees list him among vulnerable Republican freshmen.

Tipton is only six months into his first term in Congress, but his July report to the Federal Election Commission shows his campaign is getting four-figure contributions from individual Republicans across the state as well as starting to pick up the special-interest donations from the business and corporate political committees that regularly give to incumbents.

Tipton reported $147,184 in contributions between April 1 and June 30, including nearly $40,000 from special-interest committees. Since the first of the year, his campaign has collected $351,894.

If you were judging Tipton’s fundraising ability solely by this Chieftain story, you might think that the freshman Republican was doing a pretty good job thus far. Of course, that isn’t at all true.

By any reasonable measure, Tipton’s second fundraising quarter was dismal — enough so for a national outlet like Washington Post’s “The Fix” to label Tipton one of the big losers of the Q2 period. Tipton was listed along with several other freshman Republicans precisely because his fundraising has been so poor compared to most candidates around the country. Here in Colorado, fellow Republican freshman Rep. Cory Gardner raised $284,162 in Q2 — nearly double the amount that Tipton brought in to his coffers.

Tipton may have raised $338,000 in total in the first 6 months of the year, but his campaign still has $111,000 in debts from 2010. Roper’s article goes on to outline the various major donors who have given to Tipton, but what should be concerning is that it’s all the low-hanging fruit (Pete Coors, Bill Armstrong, etc.); in other words, Tipton hasn’t raised much money, and he’s already gotten checks from the regular Colorado GOP donors. That’s not a good sign.

Tipton’s Democratic challenger, Sal Pace, raised about $100,000 in only a month’s time. If Pace is able to outraise Tipton after a full quarter in Q3, Tipton will get more national attention — the unwanted kind — as one of several freshman Republicans being outraised by challengers. While CD-3 is currently a top target for the National Republican Congressional Committee, it won’t stay that way if Tipton can’t keep up his part of the fundraising bargain.  

And That’s Why I’m Running for Congress…Somewhere in Colorado

One of the quirks that come in a redistricting year is that the Federal Election Commission is a bit lax on requiring candidates seeking a Congressional office to actually state which office they plan to run for. Take, for example, the case of Democrat Perry Haney, a wealthy Greenwood Village chiropractor who wants to run for Congress…somewhere.

Haney has been meeting with Democrats in Colorado and in Washington D.C., telling them that he plans to run for Congress, but he won’t say where he plans to kickoff his campaign. Is it against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (and Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi) in CD-6? Is it to take on Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in CD-3, where Democrat Sal Pace has been running full-steam ahead for months?

We visited his website, paid for by “The Perry Haney for Congress Exploratory Committee,” to “explore” that question, and it doesn’t indicate anywhere that he has decided where he will run, though a look at some of the pictures and the text makes it appear as though he’s definitely leaning more towards CD-3 than anywhere else. We did get a kick out of his issue statement “On Career Politicians,” where Haney talks, of course, about how he is not a career politician; but he’s got the career politician thing figured out, it seems, since he won’t even commit to a district.

Haney recently sent a mail piece to Democratic delegates in CD-3 that left a UPS Store P.O. Box in Grand Junction as the return address, giving more indication that he may, perhaps, choose to run in Southern and Western Colorado (though he never explicitly says in the letter that he is running for Congress in CD-3). If he does run there, he will have a lot of explaining to do about being a wealthy Denver resident with little previous involvement in politics. Haney has made several donations to Democrats over the years, but he has also donated regularly to Republicans; Haney gave Scott McInnis a $500 check in his campaign for Colorado governor in 2009, $250 to Republican Attorney General Gale Norton in 1995, and $200 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1996. This won’t help him earn any friends in a Democratic primary, either.

We don’t see how Haney could possibly win a Democratic primary wherever he ultimately decides to run for Congress. We hear that he does have some personal wealth that he might commit to a campaign, and he had better hope so — we don’t see him raising much money as an unknown Denverite with no natural base in CD-3 or CD-6. But maybe he’ll figure this out as part of his grand “exploration.”

Tipton: Q2 Fundraising Loser

Our friends at the Washington Post take ominous note of Rep. Scott Tipton’s lackluster Q2:

After getting off to a slow start in the first quarter, many of the most vulnerable Republican freshmen [Pols emphasis] continued to put off fundraising for their first reelection campaigns.

Rep. David Rivera (Fla.) pulled in $34,000 as he faces ethics questions. Reps. Tom Marino (Pa.), Daniel Webster (Fla.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.) and Mike Kelly (Pa.) each raised less than $125,000, while Reps. Dan Benishek (Mich.), Jon Runyan (N.J.) and Scott R. Tipton (Colo.) each raised less than $150,000.

Adds the AP:

In campaign finance reports turned in last week, the 3rd District congressman reported raising less than $150,000 last quarter. That’s less than half raised by his fellow freshman, Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner.

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee says Tipton will have enough to defeat his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Sal Pace of Pueblo. Pace raised about $100,000 last quarter – but Pace raised that amount in one month instead of 3…

The NRCC always talks a good game, but the substantial fundraising disparity between freshmen Reps. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner could begin to tell its own story very soon. While Gardner looks strong in anticipation of a high-profile fight against Colorado Senate President Brandon Shaffer, Tipton…well? It’s early yet, but you have to wonder if we’re seeing real signs now of who national GOP strategists deem worthy of investment–and not.

Pace Raises $100K in 30 Days, Will Stay on as Minority Leader

Democrat Sal Pace is off to a fast start in his bid to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in CD-3. As The Pueblo Chieftain reports:

Colorado House Minority Leader Sal Pace raised $100,000 during the first 30 days of his candidacy to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, Pace’s campaign announced Friday.

 Pace also said he plans to stay in his minority leadership role in the House next legislative session despite the target that House Republicans likely will place on him as a congressional challenger to a member of their party…

…If Pace were to sustain the fundraising rate he enjoyed during the first month of his campaign – a tall order – he would amass a war chest of $1.8 million by the November 2012 general election. That would constitute about 50 percent more than the $1.2 million Tipton collected by Election Day last November when he unseated incumbent Democrat John Salazar.

For comparison’s sake, Tipton raised $176,064 in the first quarter of this year (the Q2 reporting period ended on June 30, but reports won’t show up online until the middle of July). Tipton’s Q1 report showed his campaign with a total of $166,852 cash on hand, but with $136,459 in debts still owed by his committee.

The Chieftain also notes that Colorado’s CD-3 has not been identified by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) as a Top 10 seat to protect, though it’s likely that Tipton will still see strong support from the NRCC. But with all of Tipton’s early problems, from his Medicare shackles to errors of his own doing, the NRCC won’t have a lot of patience for him if he doesn’t start raising a lot more money while making a lot fewer mistakes.

Perhaps the most interesting note in Saturday’s story is that Pace says he plans to continue to serve as House Minority Leader in the 2012 legislative session. Whether to resign or stay is always a difficult decision for sitting legislators running for higher office, in large part because the legislative session sucks up an enormous amount of time that candidates need to use for fundraising. In Pace’s case, this was the right decision; his leadership status will make sure that he gets his name in the local newspapers more often than if he were a full-time candidate, and that earned media coverage can be as useful as some of the money he might otherwise be raising for paid ads later.

Paul Ryan Radioactive to Republicans

The Republican budget plan drafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has created a — yes, we’ll say it — shitstorm of problems for Republicans around the country because of a key component that would dramatically change Medicare.

Here in Colorado, freshman Rep. Cory Gardner has been furiously trying to spin the Medicare piece of “The Ryan Plan” to make it appear less horrible to average voters. In CD-3, Republican Rep. Scott Tipton is facing the same problems. But all the spin in the world on various pieces of “The Ryan Plan” may not do much to help Gardner and Tipton if Paul Ryan himself remains as unpopular as he is in a new poll. As Politico reports:

Democrats are winning the messaging war on Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid to overhaul Medicare, with a new Bloomberg poll finding 57 percent of Americans believe they would be worse off under his plan.

Only 34 percent said they would be better off if Congress replaced “traditional Medicare” with a program to purchase private insurance with government subsidies, as Ryan has proposed.

The poll also found Ryan is now the nation’s third most disliked Republican, with net unfavorable ratings that trail only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Yikes! This creates a whammy of a messaging problem for Gardner and Tipton, because any attack ads in 2012 can double-down on the rhetoric for better effect. We can already see the ad: [insert scary voice] Cory Gardner voted to approve Paul Ryan’s budget plan that would destroy Medicare as we know it.

Not only would this message hurt Gardner (and Tipton) because of people angry with the proposed Medicare changes — it also hurts with people who don’t like Paul Ryan.

Thanks a lot, budget wunderkind!


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Tipton’s Problems Rapidly Intensify

7NEWS reports this morning:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton may have violated ethics rules after he spent more than $7,000 from his House office account on vendors that contract with his nephew’s company, according to The Associated Press…

Invoices show that the congressman paid more than $7,000 to iConstituent and Constituent Services for newsletters and an April telephone town hall.

Both companies are vendors of Colorado-based Broadnet, which is owned by Tipton’s nephew, Steve Patterson.

In today’s Denver newspaper, reporter Allison Sherry ably follows up the story from last week, broke by Politico, that Rep. Scott Tipton had apologized to the House Ethics Committee for inappropriate representations by his daughter Elizabeth Tipton in trying to win business for Colorado-based telephony services provider Broadnet. Broadnet is owned by Tipton’s nephew, which could be Rep. Tipton’s next problem if he manages to convince you that his daughter was just an inexperienced and well-intentioned namedropper.

Sherry also reports that Rep. Tipton’s daughter in fact lives with the congressman in his Washington, DC apartment, which rightly adds a layer of complication to the defense that he wasn’t aware of his daughter’s activities. The Pueblo Chieftain reported last week that rumors of this ethics problem had been circulating for some time, which is obviously a problem for Tipton’s desired spin of him going ‘unbidden’ to the Ethics Committee.

It remains to be seen whether or not contractor relationships like that between Tipton’s office and his nephew’s company are included in the clear prohibition against employment of family members, but either way, it really doesn’t look good. Even if the House Ethics Committee doesn’t take action over either of these pieces of the story, it will still make for…well, we don’t have to actually write the script for the ad, do we? You can imagine how nasty they will be.

In other news, reports the Albany Times Union:

More than a dozen House freshmen – including one Albany-area congressman – spent more than $200,000 on staff salaries during the first three months of 2011.

Rep. Chris Gibson, a first-term Republican from Kinderhook, spent $202,705 on first quarter staff expenditures, ranking eighth out of the 17 House freshmen who spent the most on staff salaries, according to a recent analysis conducted by Colorado Pols…

So who was the top dog – er, spender?

That title goes to Republican Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado. The Congressman spent $243,431 on salaries for 21 staffers – nearly $57,000 more than his Democratic predecessor, John Salazar, spent in his first three months in office in 2005.

Colorado Pols lambasted Tipton’s high wages as hypocrisy from the congressman famous for his “smaller government” image.

The conservative Grand Junction Sentinel’s editorial board took a hard shot at Tipton on Tuesday over his congressional staff salaries (paywalled link here), saying that he “needs to explain to residents of the 3rd District why the fiscal sacrifice he has said we all must share when it comes to federal spending should not apply to his own staff.” That hurts, especially coming from them. The Colorado Springs Independent also picked up on our original story.

The fact is, either one of these narratives is highly problematic for Tipton, who ran on an absurd platform of “cutting the government in half,” and is coming under separate fire for his thoughtless, arbitrary, and stammeringly inarticulate approach to his job. In aggregate, it could really be enough baggage to retire him–even if the ethics problem doesn’t get any worse.

EXCLUSIVE: Scott Tipton Biggest Spender Among House Freshmen

Republican Rep. Scott Tipton has had all kinds of problems during his first five months in office. Spending taxpayer money, apparently, has not been one of them.

According to a Colorado Pols analysis of House salary data available at the website Legistorm, Tipton spent more money on staff salaries in the first quarter of 2011 than any other freshman member of Congress…and it’s not even close. Tipton’s office doled out a whopping $243,431 in total salaries in the first three months of 2011, including $39,111 to make Mike Hesse one of the highest-paid Chiefs of Staff among the 93 first-year members in the House. Tipton is one of only 17 Freshmen to spend more than $200,000 on staff salaries in Q1. Colorado’s other Freshman Member of Congress, Rep. Cory Gardner, spent $186,673 on salaries during the same period.

Tipton’s office may try to explain these massive expenditures by pointing out that he serves a very large district (geographically-speaking). But Tipton’s predecessor in CD-3, Democratic Rep. John Salazar, spent just $153,013 on salaries in his first three months in office in 2005.

Tipton has gotten bad press lately for nitpicking at budget items, and he campaigned in 2010 as a fiscal reformer; he famously pledged to cut the federal budget in half, a laughable assertion but one that nonetheless he tried to fit into his “smaller government” image. Just last weekend Tipton talked about cutting government spending in remarks to the Pitkin County Republicans. As the Aspen Daily News reports:

“But the question we all have to answer now is, ‘Can we continue to pay the price?’ The answer is ‘no’ and we know it. We are in a dive bomb to economic catastrophe if we do not turn the ship.”

How Tipton will continue to perpetuate his “smaller government” image despite his big spending ways will be vital to his re-election chances in 2012. We’re guessing that “Spendy” Scott Tipton isn’t the kind of moniker he’ll be looking for.


Gardner and Tipton vs. Perlmutter on Medicare Privatization

Discussing the surprise victory this week by Democrat Kathy Hochul in New York’s CD-26 special election, for which credit is broadly being attributed to the Republican 2012 budget proposal and its replacement of Medicare with a voucher system in ten years, we posted video clips of Colorado freshman Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton defending it for posterity.

Tuesday, reports the Colorado Independent’s Scot Kersgaard, Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter responded to the GOP budget proposal, and attacks on Medicare generally.

“Americans know Medicare didn’t get us into this financial pickle, yet the Republicans in Congress want to pick on Medicare because they’ve never liked the program. Medicare is not harming the financial success of this country, so why are we blaming a program that is working and helping seniors have healthier, longer lives?”

Like we said yesterday after the Senate rejected the “Ryan Plan” with five GOP defections, it’s a very easy choice for us which of these two positions we’d rather run on in 2012. Fortunately for our two freshman Republicans, we haven’t seen any redistricting maps that would pit either of them against Perlmutter–but we expect their challengers will know what to say too.

And now there’s evidence it might really work, like 2010’s “death panels” but based in reality.

Senate Rejects Ryan Budget, Medicare Overhaul

From Politico:

With five Republicans joining Democrats in opposition, the Senate easily rejected a House-passed budget plan Wednesday calling for deep cuts in domestic appropriations and major restructuring of Medicare, the government-backed healthcare program for the elderly.

The 57-40 roll call proved more for show than substance but still stung for GOP leaders, coming less than 24 hours after the same Medicare issue figured prominently in the upset of a Republican candidate in a special House election for upstate New York.

In a tell-tale sign of trouble ahead, there were significantly more defections among GOP moderates than in a similar partisan show vote in March testing support then for an earlier House Republican budget initiative focused on discretionary spending cuts. [Pols emphasis]

Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner was defiant regarding the Ryan budget in an earlier Politico story today, but this afternoon’s Senate vote is telling in how moderates rejected the Ryan budget across-the-board. There’s Gardner’s strategic approach to Medicare and the “Ryan budget,” and then there’s the strategy being employed by Senate moderates — we can tell you which direction we’d be more comfortable with as an incumbent member of Congress (hint: it ain’t Gardner’s position).

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