by Lisa Cyriacks
Colorado was a hotly contested swing state in the 2008 and 2012 elections. This election year, according to national news sources, the US Senate race, once expected to be among the most competitive nationally, now looks out of reach for the GOP.
In Colorado Congressional Districts 3 and 6, incumbent GOP candidates Scott Tipton and Mike Coffman are facing strong challenges by Democrats Gail Schwartz and Morgan Carroll. National Democrats believe this may be the year they take control of the U.S. Senate and make inroads into reclaiming the House of Representatives.
There are two overlapping narratives for Colorado’s switch from red to blue. One is demographic: For the past couple of decades, Colorado’s population has grown, becoming younger, more urban, and more diverse. The new voters tend to be Democrats, and there are now about 20,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, the first time in 20 years the GOP has not had the advantage.
The second is a national shift in party philosophical alignment. Democratic candidates have begun emphasizing quality-of-life issues like education and public safety. Republican candidates have instead focused on divisive cultural issues.
According to the Federal Communications Commission filings, more than $62 million in political advertising for national races has aired or is scheduled to air before Election Day in Colorado.
Congressional District 3
Scott Tipton, a third-term incumbent Congressman, is facing a challenge against Democratic former State Senator Gail Schwartz.
Tipton, a native New Mexican, has lived in CD3 his entire life and has been the in U.S. House since 2010. Schwartz has lived in Colorado since graduating from the University of Colorado in 1971. Many factors set these two candidates apart, including how they view the future of the Third District.
The Third Congressional District covers more than one-third of the state by area and is predominantly rural. The largest population centers are Grand Junction to the west and Pueblo to the east. Most of the federal lands are found in the Third. Competing interests could be considered recreation and tourism vs. ranching, mining, and timber—all of which also use public lands.
Tipton is focused on the economy and jobs that are tied to the district’s energy industry.
Schwartz’s focus is also on employment, but it’s combined with an interest in protecting Colorado’s public lands and building up the outdoor recreation industry that she believes will help replace some of the jobs lost in mining.
Schwartz, in her eight years in the state senate, sponsored legislation that favored job creation, focused on broadband development and on a “cottage foods act” that allows people to produce foods at home for local sales. Schwartz also has a strong record for protecting water and the environment.
By contrast, Tipton co-sponsored the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2015 that many claim would effectively turn over Colorado’s public lands to energy developers.
Schwartz is considered a moderate candidate with a record of bipartisan cooperation. Tipton votes with his Republican colleagues 95% of the time.
Running on the Libertarian ticket for CD3 is Gayon Kent.
True to his bi-partisian reputation, Democratic Senator Bennet unveiled a list Wednesday of more than 100 business executives who are supporting him in this year’s re-election race, including several who have been prominent backers of Republican office-seekers in the past.
Bennet has a long track record of the numerous issues he has taken on while in office documented on his website: http://bennetforcolorado.com/about-michael.
His opponent, Republican Darryl Glenn, has been courting conservative activists. Glenn, an Air Force veteran, did well in the Republican primary against four other candidates, winning the GOP nomination with 37% of the vote.
Bennet was appointed to replace U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar in 2009 and won election in 2010 with help from his ties to the business community. He previously worked for billionaire Phil Anschutz and served as superintendent for Denver Public Schools.
The full slate of candidates is as follows: Michael Bennett (Democrat), Darryl Glenn (Republican), Lily Tang Williams (Libertarian), Arn Menconi (Green), Bill Hammons (Unity), Dan Chapin (Unaffiliated), Paul Noel Fiorino (Unaffiliated).
State Senate District 35
Incumbent Larry Crowder, Republican, has served in this seat since 2012. Larry is an Army veteran, small business owner, farmer and rancher. Crowder supports job creation, agriculture, education and responsible stewardship of the environment. He continues to sponsor legislation to support veterans through job training and funding for veterans service offices.
Democratic candidate Jim Casias, Las Animas County Sheriff, is running on a platform to protect freedoms and fight for fairness for citizens in his district, opposing special interests in Denver.
State House District 62
Both the Republican and Democratic candidates for this seat are Colorado natives; neither are the incumbent for a seat opened by term limits.
Democrat Donald Valdez is a 5th generation San Luis Valley resident from La Jara. He presents his campaign as driven by a commitment to “land, water and way of life in Southern Colorado.” His website, http://valdezforco.com/home, emphasizes key issues for his campaign as education, economic development, protecting natural resources, support for veterans and access to affordable healthcare.
Valdez is currently serving as the Assistant District Governor for Area 5470 of Rotary International, is a former President of the Conejos/La Jara Rotary, is a member of the Knights of Columbus and is a member of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Board. He was also the vice-chair and Western Slope Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, the USDA’s NRCS Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager, NRCS Civil Rights Committee, and the NRCS Green Team.
Republican Bob Mattive, is a SLV farmer running on a platform of protecting water and cutting “burdensome” regulations. Issues he addressed in a recent press conference included: support for Raise the Bar limiting citizens’ access to the ballot, support for small businesses through opposition to a minimum wage increase, supporting fracking and providing a voice for agriculture—a large portion of District 62 is farms and ranches. His website is: www.votebobmattive.com/issues.