Candidate stresses water issue |

Candidate stresses water issue

— Water is the most important issue in the race to replace Rep. Scott McInnis in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, Republican candidate and state Rep. Matt Smith said at a Routt County Republicans meeting Wednesday.

“It’s all about our water and who’s going to protect it,” he told a crowd of about 30 area Republicans.

Smith, a Grand Junction attorney, stressed the importance of protecting Western Slope water from Front Range and out-of-state interests and said the issue separates him from other Republican candidates.

Smith will be on Tuesday’s Republican primary ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives seat along with state Rep. Gregg Rippy of Grand Junction, Palisade peach grower Greg Walcher, Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino and U.S. Naval Reserves commander and Steamboat Springs native Matt Aljanich.

Smith criticized Walcher and Rippy for supporting Referendum A, a $2 billion bond issue that would have rehabilitated reservoirs while building additional dams and water storage facilities. Voters defeated the measure in November.

During a visit to Steamboat several weeks ago Walcher, a former director of the state Department of Natural Resources, said protecting Western Slope water was an important issue in his campaign.

Smith emphasized that the GOP candidate for the 3rd Congressional seat must have a tough stance on water to beat Democratic state Rep. John Salazar, a San Luis farmer and strong proponent of safeguarding the districts’ water.

The five GOP candidates have spent the past several weeks campaigning throughout the district and have attended debates in Grand Junction, Pueblo, Durango, Craig and Montrose.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail

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