Medicare Debate Could Shape Race for the Third Congressional District
by Seth Cagin
May 31, 2011 | 4068 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Scott Tipton and Sal Pace
Scott Tipton and Sal Pace
Pueblo Democratic House Representative Sal Pace announced Tuesday that he will challenge freshman incumbent Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez to represent Colorado’s Third Congressional District.

The announcement comes following a New York Times story on Monday in which Pace was cited as a prime example of a likely Democratic challenger to a Republican incumbent invigorated by the upset victory of Democrat Kathleen Hochul in a special election last month in a Republican stronghold in New York State. Political analysts have largely attributed Hochul’s win to voter disapproval of a Republican proposal to convert Medicare into a voucher program.

Indeed, in his email announcing his candidacy, Pace wrote: “I've now seen how Scott Tipton votes back inside that Beltway. He voted – and strongly defends – the Ryan plan ending Medicare as we know it.”

The email continues: “[Tipton] won't support projects like the Roaring Fork's Regional Transportation Authority that will help solve some of the challenges faced by our local communities. He's not paying enough attention to issues like Pinon Canyon or Fort Lewis' Native American tuition waiver.”

The Third District covers the entire Western Slope and much of southeastern Colorado, including Pueblo. It is a classic “swing” district, having been represented by Republican Scott McInnis for six terms from 1993 to 2005 and by Democrat Salazar for three terms from 2005 to 2011. Tipton defeated Salazar in 2010.

A graduate of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Pace served as a legislative aid to Salazar and managed Salazar’s 2006 reelection campaign before running for the Colorado House seat encompassing western Pueblo. He is currently the minority leader in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Tipton has accused Democrats of “putting out the fear card” by arguing that the Republican plan would effectively end Medicare.

By contrast, Pace told the Times that “the New York race confirmed what I thought citizens would feel about Medicare…. People are very hesitant to end Medicare as we know it.”

In related news that may also reflect how a race between Tipton and Pace could heat up, the website Politico reported on May 27 that Tipton has written a letter to the House Ethics Committee, apologizing that his daughter introduced herself to congressional offices as the congressman’s daughter to arrange appointments for her employer.

Elizabeth Tipton, 22, works for Broadnet Inc., a telephone conference provider founded by Tipton’s nephew, Steve Patterson. Broadnet provides tele-town hall services to about 100 members of Congress.

According to Politico, Elizabeth Tipton was the social media director for her father’s 2010 campaign and went to work as a government relations specialist at Broadnet in January 2011.

Tipton spokesman Josh Green released a statement to Politico that read: “Nancy Pelosi sent her top lapdog to Colorado last week to fire-up the rumor mill with this cheap Washington political attack on a 22 year old girl. They are stooping to sleazy political attacks on Scott Tipton’s daughter rather than engaging on the issues facing the American people.”

The alleged lapdog, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, was in Colorado in support of Democratic candidates when the Politico story broke. His spokesman derided Green’s statement as “laughable.”

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