Ideological battle in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District tops US House races |

Ideological battle in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District tops US House races

James Anderson and Thomas Peipert
The Associated Press
Republican Lauren Boebert (left) and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush

DENVER — Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush is a policy wonk who has conducted a virtual Zoom campaign focusing on water, energy, public lands, health care and rural broadband in a vast Colorado congressional district the size of Pennsylvania.

Republican Lauren Boebert is an outspoken first-time candidate who has traveled thousands of miles to personally rally voters. Her Glock strapped to the hip, she defends gun rights and blasts what she calls a Democrat plan to strip away Americans’ freedoms under the guise of controlling the coronavirus and expanding health care.

Both seek to become the first woman to represent the 3rd Congressional District, a swath of western and southern Colorado that includes the old steel city of Pueblo and the Republican stronghold of Grand Junction’s Mesa County. Its economy is built on oil and gas production, mining, ranching and tourism. For the past decade, Republican Scott Tipton, a moderate conservative, has held the seat — but his stunning loss to Boebert in a June primary thrust this race to national prominence.

The bitter campaign tops the list of Colorado’s seven U.S. House races, thanks in part to President Donald Trump’s rapid embrace of Boebert. The outcome of this race and Rep. Jason Crow’s quest for a second term as the only Democrat to represent suburban Denver’s 6th District will gauge the extent of Colorado’s leftward trend under Trump.

In her second run for the seat, Mitsch Bush has stressed a bipartisan record as a former state lawmaker and former commissioner in Steamboat Springs’ Routt County as well as her defense of the Affordable Care Act, which she says protects more than 300,000 people in her district with pre-existing conditions.

Mitsch Bush insists Boebert would do away with those protections — without offering an alternative — in a district with some of the highest health insurance premiums and fewest insurers in the country.

She calls Boebert short on policy and big on celebrity. In the campaign’s latter stages, she won an endorsement from Russ George, a former Republican state House speaker from the district.

Boebert insists her opponent’s support for green energy would eliminate thousands of oil and gas industry jobs (Mitsch Bush says she supports a long-term transitional strategy). Boebert also openly distrusts the news media, insists a “deep state” has it in for Trump, and, as a prolific tweeter, she routinely lashes out at national Democrats.

In 2018, Crow became the first Democrat to represent the 6th District by riding a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to defeat five-term Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. This year he faces Steve House, a former chair of Colorado’s Republican Party.

Crow is a former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was one of 15 Democrats in 2019 who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House, saying, “I believe we need a new generation of leadership in our country.” Pelosi tapped him a year later to be one of seven impeachment managers in President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.

House ran on a platform of immigration, education and health care reform. He faced a steeply uphill battle against Crow in a district where nearly one in five residents was born overseas.


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