Challenger invokes Reagan in congressional bid |

Challenger invokes Reagan in congressional bid

John Colson
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Scott Tipton, the Republican challenger in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race, portrays himself as a “traditional Republican candidate.”In an interview with The Aspen Times, he claimed to “reflect the values of the 3rd District,” including a belief that “government is too big and too invasive,” and needs to reduce the tax burden on the citizens; that “our borders need to be secure” from terrorists and illegal immigrants; the United States must act quickly and decisively to make itself more “energy self-sufficient,” and it should be a high priority of Congress to improve the national education system.On his website, Tipton, a 49-year-old small-business owner from Cortez, lists five basic issues that he feels are most important: “protecting our water; promoting small business; fighting for taxpayers; preserving access to public lands [and] defending our property rights.”In conversation, he invoked the name of President Reagan more than once.Asked about the accepted fact that government has gotten bigger under recent Republican administrations, Tipton admitted, “There are some in the Republican party that have lost their way” and strayed from traditional Republican values. He would work to reverse that, he said.”I’m going to be true to the values that the Ronald Reagans of the past have embodied,” he said.

On a quick stopover in Aspen, Tipton stressed that “I am not a career politician,” meaning he has been running his businesses in Cortez, Mesa Verde Pottery and the Mesa Indian Trading Co., for the past couple of decades while playing an active volunteer role in Republican politics.Asked about his positions concerning one of the most pressing issues in Congress today, he cited a “need to be very cautious” concerning the ongoing war in Iraq, explaining that he is not interested in arguments about “whether we should have gone there or not.”He said Congress should not try to “micromanage the war,” but should make broad policies and leave the detailed operations to the military leadership.Noting “three successful elections” in Iraq, he maintained, “They have established their own governmen,t” and as soon as possible the U.S. should pull its troops out and let the Iraqis take over.But, he stressed, he does not believe in creating an artificial time line for that withdrawal, saying it is up to the military commanders “on the ground” to make such decisions, which he believes could be soon, or not for several years.Meanwhile, he said, it is up to Congress to make sure the soldiers in Iraq have sufficient weapons and supplies to fight the war.Regarding environmental issues, he said, “I think we are all conservationists” who live on the Western Slope, noting that some 70 percent of the 3rd District consists of federal, state or tribal lands, off limits to development.

He said he has “pushed for energy sustainability” by supporting such technologies as wind and solar power, fuel cells, coal gasification, biodiesel and oil shale.He criticized his opponent, incumbent Democrat John Salazar, for voting against an offshore drilling proposal that Tipton believes “has actually increased pressure on western Colorado” for development of oil shale.”We’re going to have to be very cautious about oil shale,” he said, adding that he sees promise in a technology Shell Oil is developing to cook the rock in which shale oil – actually an oil-like substance called kerogen – is suspended several hundred feet below the surface of the Piceance Basin north of Rifle. Oil companies believe there are millions of barrels worth of oil buried in the region, but have been unable to figure out a way to get it in more than a century of trying.Tipton said he believes energy industries in general have been moving toward greater environmental consciousness in recent years, and that what is needed is “leadership that can see the big vision.” He said he supports the idea of oil exploration in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, in addition to increased exploration of coastal waters around the U.S., in addition to added emphasis on alternative energy sources.Tipton believes that the government should provide “incentives” to industry to encourage alternative energy development, increased fuel efficiency in cars and trucks, rather than writing laws to force industry’s compliance.”I’m not a big proponent of increasingly more and more regulations,” he said.

As for trimming government, he proposed Congress should write laws to “incentivize bureaucracy” to find ways to cut costs and increase efficiency, rewarding inventive bureaucrats with cash or other prizes.Tipton favors the use of biometric technology in immigration – iris scans, DNA tests – to register and track those who cross the borders into the U.S. He supports some version of what President Bush has been calling a guest worker program that lets immigrants work in the U.S. for a short time and then return home, as well as proposals for a fence along critical parts of the U.S./Mexico border.”I am for border security,” he said with emphasis.Tipton is married with two daughters. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Fort Lewis College in Durango. He has been the chairman of the 3rd District Republican Party since 1997, and has worked for Republican causes and candidates since 1976.John Colson’s e-mail is

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