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Political newcomer Lauren Boebert beats incumbent Scott Tipton in CD3 Republican primary

Rifle restaurant owner and staunch gun rights advocate Lauren Boebert pulled off the upset of the night in Tuesday’s Colorado Primary elections, defeating five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for the party’s nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.

“Our freedom and our Constitutional rights are on the ballot this November and Republicans just sent a loud and clear message that they want me there to fight for them,” Boebert said in a statement, issued from her campaign watch party in Grand Junction.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Boebert had earned 54.5% of the vote among Republican voters throughout the sprawling 3rd Congressional District, which includes the population centers of Grand Junction, Pueblo, Montrose and Durango.

Tipton held a slight advantage over Boebert in her home county of Garfield, but it was a virtual dead heat with Tipton carrying 50.1% to Boebert’s 49.9%. Tipton held the lead among Pitkin County voters with 544 votes to Boebert’s 279 votes, as of the 9:15 p.m. update from Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

Boebert is the owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, which has become widely known for allowing its wait staff to open carry.

“I joined this race because thousands of ordinary Americans just like me are fed-up with politics as usual,” she said. “Colorado deserves a fighter who will stand up for freedom, who believes in America and who is willing to take on all the left-wing lunatics who are trying so hard to ruin our country.” 

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, Tipton’s campaign conceded the race.

“3rd District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November,” Tipton said in a statement. “I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”

Boebert will face Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 3 election. Mitsch Bush, a former Routt County commissioner and state representative from Steamboat Springs who lost to Tipton in the 2018 general election, was the winner of the Democratic primary Tuesday over businessman James Iacino of Ridgway.

“It surprises me a little, but I thought she might get a lot of traction in this race because of her base,” Mitsch Bush said of Boebert’s upset win. “I was on a panel with her once, and she really stays on message and her beliefs are very strong and she is very articulate … I look forward to discussing issues with her and facing her in the general election.”

Mitsch Bush said she will run on her record as a state legislator who was able to work across party lines.

“I run on telling the truth, and I’m always transparent,” Mitsch Bush said.

Boebert called her run for Congress “a battle for the heart and soul of our country. I’m going to win this November because freedom is a great motivator,” she said.

Boebert is also a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, who tweeted Tuesday night upon learning of her upset over Tipton, “Congratulation on a really great win.”

Last fall, Boebert traveled to Denver to confront then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke regarding his stance on gun control, saying, “Hell no, you won’t take our guns.”

Recently, during the COVID-19 shutdown in Garfield County, Boebert defied Governor Jared Polis’ public health order and re-opened Shooters Grill to in-restaurant dining under CDC safety guidelines. 

Boebert noted in her statement that she was raised in a Democrat household and became a “self-taught Republican conservative.” She has never held public office.

Covering over 52,000 square miles, Colorado’s 3rd District is one of the largest in the country, stretching from Grand Junction to Pueblo and Cortez to Steamboat Springs.

Tipton won the U.S. House seat in 2010, beating incumbent John Salazar (50.1% to 45.8%). He’s won re-election in 2012 (beating Sal Pace), 2014 (versus Abel Tapia), 2016 (beating former state Sen. Gail Schwartz) and in 2018 against Diane Mitsch Bush (51.5% to 43.6%).

Tipton becomes the fifth House incumbent to lose renomination in 2020.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Diane Mitsch Bush wins CD3 Democratic primary over newcomer James Iacino

In her second effort to win Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat, Diane Mitsch Bush beat political newcomer James Iacino in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

As of 11 p.m., Mitsch Bush held 61.2% (61,395) of the 100,208 votes counted, according to the Secretary of State’s results.

She won Pitkin County with 1,921 (57.1%) to Iacino’s 1,444 votes (42.9%) as of the 9:15 p.m. update, according to the Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

She said Iacino called her at about 8 p.m. to concede and congratulate her on the win.

“He very kindly called and conceded very graciously and gave me his strong support, ” Mitsch Bush said Tuesday night. “He was clear that we are going to work together to win this seat for the people. … I’m honored and humbled so many people voted for me.”

Mitsch Bush, 70, lost to Rep. Scott Tipton in 2018 by a 51.5% to 43.6% margin.

However, Tipton lost the Republican primary to political newcomer Lauren Boebert of Rifle. Boebert had 54.5% of the votes counted to Tipton’s 45.5% overall as of 11 p.m.; Tipton was ahead in Pitkin County with 544 votes to Boebert’s 279. He conceded the race to Boebert just after 9 p.m.

“It surprises me a little but I thought she might get a lot of traction in this race because of her base,” Mitsch Bush said of Boebert leading Tipton. “I was on a panel with her once, and she really stays on message and her beliefs are very strong and she is very articulate.”

Mitsch Bush, who moved to Routt County in 1976, was a two-term Routt County Commissioner, then represented Routt County and Eagle County in the State House of Representatives for three terms (2013-2017). While in the House she was chair of the Transportation and Energy Committee and vice chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She also served on the Joint House-Senate Water Committee for five years.

She was a tenured professor at Colorado State University and she also worked on the faculty at Colorado Mountain College, where she taught and did research for 11 years. 

Iacino, 37, entered the race in October 2019 and stepped down as the CEO of Seattle Fish Co., which is his family’s business based in Denver and has an office in Montrose. He was running for his first office and now lives in Ridgway with his wife and two children.

“Last October when we launched this campaign, we had one goal in mind: to beat Scott Tipton and bring real representation back to western and southern Colorado,” Iacino said in a statement released Tuesday evening. “Our economy is in shambles, our environment is under extreme stress, and the ACA remains in a constant state of danger. I’m proud to stand with Diane Mitsch Bush because my priorities are the same as they were then, and I know she will fight for what is right and bring a real voice back to the 3rd District.”

He won the Democratic Party’s CD3 Assembly in April with 49 percent of the vote, just ahead of Mitsch Bush at 47 percent. Iacino had the endorsement of state Democrats including former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Attorney General Phil Weiser, former CD3 Congressman John Salazar and former State Senator Gail Schwartz.

Tipton won the U.S. House seat in 2010, beating incumbent John Salazar (50.1% to 45.8%). He’s won re-election in 2012 (beating Sal Pace), 2014 (versus Abel Tapia), 2016 (beating Schwartz) and in 2018 against Mitsch Bush (51.5% to 43.6%).

Covering 29 counties over 52,000 square miles, Colorado’s 3rd District is one of the largest in the country. It stretches from Grand Junction to Pueblo and Cortez to Steamboat Springs.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

It’s Election Day in Colorado. Here’s what you need to know to vote

This year, the typically ho-hum primary election is no sleeper in Colorado.

A high-profile U.S. Senate race exploded with controversy, the streets erupted in demands for racial justice and political change, and nasty internal party rifts roiled down-ballot races.

Tuesday’s primary is a microcosm of the huge stakes and heightened tensions of the 2020 election cycle, and it will offer key insights into the dynamics in both major political parties and what to expect in November.

A wildcard is the coronavirus. Colorado’s mail-ballot system lessens concerns about long lines at polling locations, but it remains to be seen whether a virtual campaign can cut through concerns about public health. In addition, social distancing measures may slow the ballot count and leave any close contests in limbo.

Voters have until 7 p.m. Tuesday to vote in person or turn in their ballots at one of their county’s designated drop-off sites. It’s too late to mail back a ballot. Colorado is a same-day registration state, so voters can register to vote up until the polls close.

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

In Senate run, Hickenlooper campaigning on CORE Act

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, a large public lands bill now languishing in the U.S. Senate, was the focus of a Friday campaign event held by John Hickenlooper, the former two-term Democratic governor running this fall for the Senate.

The event, held via Zoom, had roughly 70 people listening in, most of whom were representing public lands and conservation advocacy groups.

The panel for the call included Hickenlooper and a trio of Democrats representing Colorado and New Mexico in Washington D.C.: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, and Rep. Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. Neguse’s district includes a portion of Eagle County and other mountain counties, along with Boulder and Fort Collins.

The bill, which last fall passed the U.S. House of Representatives, has been held up in the Senate. Hickenlooper and several Democratic elected officials used that holdup as a cudgel against incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.

Along with the federal representatives, Gunnison County Commissioner Jonathan Houck was also on the panel. Houck said that the CORE Act is a product of years of ground-up work.

Houck noted that the work to get the CORE Act into its present form included a coalition of local governments, recreation and agriculture interests and others.

“This coalition represents how we want government to work for us — it’s ground-up and locally driven,” Houck said.

Houck added that he’s asked Gardner directly to support the bill.

“It’s about local control, it’s supported by each (affected) county,” Houck said. “He said, ‘I won’t stand in the way,’ but I’ve told him we need you to be out front on this.”

The bill has broad local support from county commissioners, outdoor businesses, conservationists, and ranchers, including the counties of Eagle, Summit, San Juan, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison, and Pitkin and the towns of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Ridgway, Crested Butte, Ophir, Telluride and Basalt. The bill will preserve approximately 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, including nearly 100,000 acres in the White River National Forest and wild areas across the Continental Divide in Summit and Eagle counties.

The bill also offers 73,000 acres of new wilderness areas, the highest level of protection afforded public lands, in addition to preserving 80,000 acres of new recreation and conservation management areas and removing over 200,000 acres in the Thompson Divide from future oil and gas development.

The bill also includes a first-of-its-kind National Historic Landscape to honor Colorado’s military legacy at Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division trained before fighting in Europe in World War II. One of the lead champions for the preservation of Camp Hale was 10th Mountain Division veteran and Vail Valley local Sandy Treat, who died in September.

In addition to Gardner’s lack of support, President Donald Trump last fall threatened to veto the measure if passed by the Senate. Gardner recently proposed his own bill, the Great American Outdoors Act. Bennet is a co-sponsor of that bill, which would permanently fund the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Bennet has offered the CORE Act as an amendment to Gardner’s bill, but that amendment may or may not be accepted into the bill.

Focus on Eagle County

Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes was a listener on the call, and asked the panel whether Gardner’s bill might be cover for his lack of support for the CORE Act.

“He thinks so,” Hickenlooper said.

Smith Hymes noted that she also is a member of the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority, and noted that bill supporters worked with that group to ensure access to water facilities that would be in new designated wilderness areas.

“There was a collaborative approach to the bill,” Smith Hymes said.

As you’d expect from a campaign event, Hickenlooper said he’d work to ensure the CORE Act’s passage.

He said the amount of local work that’s gone into the bill “deserves an outcome. If I get to D.C., I will do everything in my power to deliver the CORE Act.”

Sanders wins Colorado’s presidential primary, AP projects; Bloomberg leads in Pitkin County

Bernie Sanders rolled to a demonstrative victory in Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary, a Super Tuesday showing that underscored the state’s shift to the left among young voters.

In its first presidential primary in 20 years, Colorado saw a last-minute surge of votes among Democrats and independents, who for the first time cast ballots without having to affiliate with either major party.

More than 1.5 million of Colorado’s 3.4 million voters had cast ballots, the secretary of state’s office said. Unaffiliated voters — the largest voting bloc — made up nearly a third of that total. Most voted in the Democratic primary.

With about two-thirds of Democratic primary ballots counted in Pitkin County, Michael Bloomberg led all candidates by more than 200 votes early Tuesday night.

That’s according to Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, who said that as of about 7:15 p.m. her office had counted 3,359 ballots out of more than 5,000 cast in the county. There are 12,853 active registered voters in the county.

Those results showed Bloomberg with 1,178, followed by Sanders with 963 and Joe Biden with 770. Elizabeth Warren rounded out the top four with 397 votes, Vos Caudill said.

President Donald Trump resoundingly won the state’s Republican primary.

The outcome for Democrats highlighted a schism between growing numbers of young, college-educated voters and the traditional, more moderate party establishment.

Sanders easily defeated Hillary Clinton in Colorado’s 2016 Democratic caucuses, and the Vermont senator has maintained an enthusiastic base in Colorado ever since.

Democrat Noreen Petkovich, a 40-year-old nurse, voted for Sanders Tuesday. She was drawn to his calls for healthcare coverage for all and public investment in education. But what really counted is Sanders’ resonance among young voters, Petkovich said.

“Things need to change and youth is part of that,” she said.

The primary replaced a non-binding caucus system in Colorado as officials tried to get more voters involved in the national presidential race. But the volume of votes cast meant the Democratic party won’t start allocating its 67 delegates until Wednesday.

Colorado held presidential primaries from 1992 to 2000, then dropped the voting to save money. In 2016, voters approved reinstating primaries after complaining about the caucus system that involved thousands of precinct meetings to choose presidential candidates.

Four years ago, many Democratic voters couldn’t get into their caucuses, which were filled to capacity. Republicans were angry that their precinct caucuses didn’t include an unofficial vote for president.

Sanders has campaigned for Jared Polis, Colorado’s first-term governor, and freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder.

Democrats, whose ranks have been trending younger and to the left, won the Colorado Statehouse, the governorship and all statewide offices in 2018. Health care and the environment topped voters’ concerns and will resonate in this year’s elections.

“Bernie’s just the only one of them that felt honest. Environmentalism is a big one for me, and his policies align with what I want to see the most,” said Jake Wall, a 23-year-old machine shop purchaser who voted Tuesday for the Vermont senator.

Some observers say Colorado’s shift left in recent elections could ease a bit if Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, emerges as the Democratic nominee.

The ranks of Republican and Democratic voters are nearly equal in the state that boasts a multibillion-dollar fossil fuels industry as well as a vibrant environmental movement.

The 2018 midterm election “was a referendum on Trump, practically a vote against every Republican on the ballot,” said Dick Wadhams, a veteran Republican strategist and former party chairman. “But this year is different. Trump is on the ballot. If Sanders also is on the ballot, that puts Colorado in play.”

The state’s caucus system is still used for down-ballot races, including a re-election bid by Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Candidates for Congress and state offices can seek votes at precinct caucuses on Saturday and at subsequent party assemblies, or petition their way onto primary ballots in June.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Here’s what happens to the votes for candidates who drop out

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The abrupt departures of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar from the Democratic presidential race on the eve of Super Tuesday primaries could be frustrating for the millions of people who have already voted in those 14 states and might have cast ballots for them.

As voters stream to precincts across the country Tuesday, here’s a look at what happens to ballots already submitted for the candidates no longer in the race.

THE PUSH TO GET OUT EARLY

Early voting began in January in many of the Super Tuesday states. As candidates sprinted through Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, those with the resources also expanded into the delegate-rich California, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia, leading early-voting events.

It’s not known how many of those early votes may have gone to Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Tom Steyer, all of whom have announced departures from the race in the days following Saturday’s South Carolina primary, and whose names will still be on state ballots. Klobuchar and Buttigieg endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday.

FROZEN IN TIME

In large part, once a vote is cast, it is final, according to state election officials. Residents in Michigan — which votes Mar. 10 — do get another shot, with the option to “spoil” their ballot and make a second choice if their candidate drops out. Some states allow voters to pull back ballots that haven’t yet been tallied, although that has to be handled case-by-case, in person, on Election Day.

In California, with more than 400 delegates are at stake, nearly 1.6 million Democrats had returned mail-in ballots as of Monday afternoon, according to a ballot tracker maintained by Political Data Inc. If an early ballot there was marked for a candidate no longer in the race, a voter can take in their ballot for a new one, and make a second choice. But once the ballot is submitted, that’s it.

In Yolo County, with some 117,000 registered voters — about 87,000 of whom requested to vote by mail — just about 21,000 ballots had been returned as of Monday morning. Jesse Salinas, the county’s top elections official, said he suspected the rapid-fire exits by some candidates could be prompting voters to wait on casting their ballots. And some early voters, he said, had called to ask if they could possibly change their selections.

“You have to surrender what you have,” Salinas said. “You can’t vote twice.”

In Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold tweeted on Sunday that only those who had marked a ballot but not yet returned it could make a second selection, or get a new ballot.

“If you’ve returned a voted ballot, you cannot receive a second ballot, regardless of the status of the candidate you chose,” she wrote.

In North Carolina, where 110 delegates are up for grabs, voters had the option of casting ballots in person at sites in all 100 counties during a 17-day period that ended Saturday. They could also fill out traditional absentee ballots, which must be turned in or mailed by Tuesday.

Early vote selections are final. As of Saturday, more than half a million ballots had been cast in the Democratic primary, and while there is no definitive way to know which candidates garnered those votes, there’s no way to undo the decision.

“There are no mulligans in North Carolina early voting,” said Michael Bitzer, political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina.

FEELING FRUSTRATED

In many places, the frustration can be real for voters who feel their vote didn’t matter.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, is joined by former rival Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, as she endorses Biden during a campaign stop in Dallas, Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar

Some of that sentiment bubbled up on Monday, at a Colorado event for Klobuchar. Amy Valore-Caplan, a 46-year-old writer in Denver, showed up to find out that the Minnesota senator, for whom she had waited until the last minute to cast her mail-in ballot, had dropped out.

Colorado has almost exclusively mail voting, and though people can still cast ballots in person on Tuesday, about 60% post them by the day before, so they can be tallied.

Valore-Caplan said she knew Klobuchar’s candidacy was on the bubble, and actually hesitated Sunday, when she saw Buttigieg end his campaign.

“I thought it was safe,” she said, of her decision to wait another day. “I was waiting to make sure she didn’t drop out.”

PRELIMINARY PASSIONS

There’s a sentiment often seen among early voters: those who vote early are most passionate for their given candidate.

Nicolle Bugescu, a pediatric psychologist in Irvine, California, has headed up a group of health care professionals supporting Buttigieg’s campaign. Despite his exit from the race, she said Monday that she was proud to have voted early for him, even though he’d suspended his effort.

“I am so happy that I was able to do that. It’s heartbreaking, too, so it’s been an emotional roller coaster,” she said. “I will forever be proud of the vote that I cast for his historic candidacy.”

WHITHER THE DELEGATES?

Candidates who drop out of the race keep the delegates they’ve won until each state party selects the actual people who will serve as those delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. At that point, delegates won based on statewide primary and caucus results are given to the remaining viable candidates.

Delegates won based on results in congressional districts become free agents, who can support the candidate of their choice on the first ballot at the Milwaukee convention.

Young Colorado voters are counting on Bernie to deliver

Quincy Marshall is your archetypal college voter who wants their vote to represent a break in the status quo, so it’s no shock that Marshall is voting for Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s presidential primary.

“I have very intense ideas about what should happen,” said the Community College of Aurora student. “I want radicalism. Bernie’s loud and angry, so maybe we’ll get there.”

Marshall’s two most important priorities probably won’t come as much of a surprise, either: The 19-year-old wants equality and environmental protections — issues they think older generations have a hard time grasping.

Young Coloradans like Marshall are driving Sanders’ 12-point lead in the Democratic primary here, according to a Magellan Strategies poll released last week. Almost half of likely voters under 45 years old will likely or definitely support Sanders, while he was tied with Pete Buttigieg — who ended his campaign Sunday –among 45- to 64-year-olds and comes in third with the 65-and-older crowd.

Click here to read the full story from The Denver Post.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock endorses Joe Biden for president

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president Monday as Biden seeks to consolidate support ahead of the Colorado primary.

Hancock called the election “the most critical decision of this generation” and said in a statement that Biden is “the best qualified to heal the wounds of division that have been sown under Trump.”

The mayor, a prior backer of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S Sen. Michael Bennet until each dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, held off through February on endorsing one of the remaining candidates.

“Joe Biden is the president our country needs,” Hancock said. “I know he’ll unite our nation and get to work immediately delivering for working families. … As the mayor of a growing and vibrant city, Donald Trump’s reckless attacks on immigrants, health care and the environment are deeply personal. Joe is a candidate that has both the experience and the ability to get our country back on track.”

Click here to read the full story from The Denver Post:

Thousands of Colorado 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday

AURORA — Thousands of 17-year-olds are eligible to vote in Colorado’s upcoming presidential primary for the first time under a new state law.

The law allows 17-year-olds to cast ballots in spring primaries if they turn 18 before November’s general election. At least seven states and Washington, D.C., have similar laws.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, about 24,000 teens are eligible to vote in the March 3 primary under the change, a small number in a state with 3.4 million voters, the Sentinel Colorado reported.

“Chances are that turnout won’t be very high among this group, since it tends to be low among young people in general, and probably a lot of them aren’t aware they can vote now,” said Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver.

However, the new voters could help Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and that could make a difference in a tight race, Denver pollster and commentator Floyd Ciruli said. The Vermont senator has benefited from support among Generation Z and millennial voters.

Three Overland High School students who were interviewed about the new law said they did not know about their ability to vote until a few weeks ago and figure most of their peers were not aware either.

Kyle Siple was the only one among the three who had registered to vote so far but all said they planned to cast ballots. Voters can register to vote and vote in person at polling locations posted online by the secretary of state’s office.

Siple said many Hispanic students at the school, considered one of the most culturally diverse in the nation, have lost faith in the electoral process because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

“Some of them just think it is hopeless, they won’t vote,” said Siple, who is white.

Colorado has both a caucus and a primary next month. Here’s how they will work.

Political caucuses have come under renewed criticism since the chaotic Democratic caucuses in Iowa earlier this month, but Coloradans have no reason for concern, state party and election leaders say.

Democratic and GOP caucus meetings are set to take place across Colorado on March 7, but the process will be much different than in Iowa, where it took days to sort out the results on the Democratic side. For one thing, caucus-goers here won’t be choosing presidential nominees. Registered voters will do that via ballots that are already being sent out.

Also, the parties won’t be using an app to report caucus results — technology that took the blame for the failures in Iowa.

“We really prioritize cyber-security in all of our election support systems,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said.

Read the full story from The Denver Post.