Carbondale candidate forces Tipton into GOP primary
Former state senator and Snowmass Village resident Gail Schwartz made a splash in the Colorado political world Friday by announcing she will run for U.S. Congress.
But a current Roaring Fork Valley resident hopes he also is in the mix come November for the 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Scott Tipton.
Alex Beinstein of Carbondale gained enough delegates at the Republican multi-county assembly in Colorado Springs on Friday that he forced a primary election with Tipton. They will square off June 28.
Beinstein, 28, a recent law school graduate, picked up 40.3 percent of the delegates. He needed 30 percent to force a primary.
“We definitely beat expectations, so I’m happy with that,” Beinstein said.
The delegate count was 358 for Tipton and 242 for Beinstein.
After being nominated by a supporter, assembly rules left enough time for Beinstein to speak for four minutes to the delegates from the 29 states in the sprawling 3rd Congressional District. He said he hammered his campaign themes of strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution and states’ rights.
His scouting indicated he fared well with delegates from Pueblo and probably in the conservative Delta and Montrose areas. He doesn’t think he did well in the mountain resort areas of Aspen and Telluride.
With only 11 weeks until the primary, Beinstein said he knows he will have to work hard to unseat an incumbent.
“It’s still going to be a tough fight,” he said. Tipton was elected in 2010.
He plans a nearly nonstop tour of the district, which stretches from Grand Junction to southern Colorado, to shake hands in front of big box stores, at community gatherings and rallies.
“Hopefully I don’t even have a hand left by June 28,” he said.
He only has $4,000 cash in hand right now. He hopes making the primary ballot will boost his fund raising. If he reaches around $50,000, he will consider hiring a campaign worker. For now, he’s relying on his dad, Jerry Beinstein, and some volunteers who will return from college for the summer. Beinstein said his dad pretty much fits all roles in the campaign right now, from adviser to gopher.
“I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made the ballot without him,” the candidate said.
Beinstein has indicated during the campaign that he is further to the right on the political spectrum than Tipton. He wants to tap into anti-establishment sentiment that’s dominating GOP politics so far this campaign.
He said the Colorado Republican Party has been neutral, as rules require, and helpful. However, a conservative online blog recently disclosed that Beinstein’s parents are registered Democrats in a story headlined, “Is Tipton’s GOP opponent really a Democrat?” Beinstein said he suspects Tipton planted the story.
Beinstein has urged the media to organize debates between the candidates. He said he also would reach out to Tipton’s staff to propose one or more debates.
Meanwhile, Schwartz, who now lives in Crested Butte, is viewed as a strong challenger in a district where independents determine who goes to Washington, D.C. Among registered voters, 34 percent are Republican, 29 percent are Democrat and 35 percent are independent.
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Aspen appears to be in high demand as a Presidents Day Weekend destination, with commercial and private flights delayed more than two hours Friday at the Pitkin County airport.