Election 2018: Mitsch Bush wins 3rd Congressional District primary
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:35 p.m.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Former State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, of Steamboat Springs, handily claimed the right to face off against incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Tipton in the fall campaign for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District with a convincing Democratic primary win over Karl Hanlon, of Carbondale, and Arn Menconi, of Eagle County, on Tuesday.
“I’m looking forward to running hard against Scott Tipton,” Mitsch Bush told the Denver Post Tuesday night. “It’s time that we have a real representative in the 3rd Congressional District.”
Mitsch Bush claimed 64.37 percent of the votes to 27.6 percent for Hanlon and 7.99 percent for Menconi in a district that stretches from Routt and Moffat counties in Northwest Colorado, all the way to Durango in the south and Pueblo in the southeast.
Her final vote total was 37,549 compared to 16,120 for Hanlon and 4,660 for Menconi.
At home in Routt County, voter turnout was light in spite of the fact that the 2018 primary was a historic one for Colorado, in which unaffiliated voters were able to vote in a primary for the first time.
The Routt County Clerk’s Office confirmed that there were 5,490 ballots cast. Mitsch Bush dominated her opponents in her home county, claiming 3,219 of the 3,477 ballots cast in the Democratic primary. That means 92.58 percent of the ballots cast locally were for Mitsch Bush.
Mitsch Bush can be expected to quickly pivot to national issues in her autumn bid to unseat Tipton. During a campaign appearance in Steamboat on June 13, she predicted trade tariffs the Trump Administration has placed on aluminum could hurt Colorado’s outdoor equipment industries.
“The decisions were based on emotion, and a wide array of local businesses are going to be hurt,” Mitsch Bush said. “Those policies were originally aimed at China, and now (they affect) all our partners. They are going to skewer our outdoor manufacturing industries, whether it’s Moots and Eriksen (bicycle companies in Steamboat) or Osprey packs in Cortez. Those things are going to cost more.”
Based on recent election history, Mitsch Bush will face a stiff challenge from the well-funded Tipton campaign.
Former State Senator Gail Schwartz, of Crested Butte, took Tipton on in the 2016 election and was defeated by a little more than 50,000 votes. Tipton claimed 54.6 percent of the 374,037 ballots cast.
In the gubernatorial primary election, Routt County Republicans — and an unknown number of unaffiliated voters — favored current State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who will go on to the November general election to see who will replace term-limited Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper.
Of 1,795 ballots cast in that race, Stapleton claimed 921 or 51.3 percent. His closest challenger in Routt County was Victor Mitchell, with 513 votes.
Stapleton will move on to face Democrat Jared Polis, a five-term Congressman from Boulder.
Polis was the choice of Routt County Democrats too, but it was one of the closest races of the night here. Polis claimed 38.8 percent of the votes (1,314) to 30.94 percent for former state treasurer Cary Kennedy (1,048 votes).
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