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John Colson: With Scott Tipton out, now it’s Diane Mitsch Bush time

John Colson
Hit & Run

By now, it’s no longer news that Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CD3), who has represented the sprawling 3rd Congressional District for five terms, is now a lame duck and, I hope, will soon be little more than a vague footnote in Colorado politics.

But I’m hoping that, in a few months, the reality of Tipton’s loss will result in a different kind of news item, confirming Colorado’s ongoing tidal change in politics from red to purple to blue, with the election of former Colorado state legislator Diane Mitsch Bush to Tipton’s seat in Congress.

Tipton’s ouster, from a seat where he had been considered invincible, has come about thanks to Lauren Boebert, owner of Shooters Grill (wait staff openly carry guns) in the city of Rifle and a recent target of state reprisals for her defiance of Colorado’s spate of regulations aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boebert will now face Mitsch Bush, who lost to Tipton in 2018 (51% to 43%) but is now in a good position to take back a seat that has bounced three times between Democrats and Republicans since 1980, until Tipton took it away from former Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat, in 2010, by a margin of 50% to 45%.

According to published reports, 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 to 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.

Boebert, a political newcomer and gun-rights activist, has been quoted in news stories as having positive feelings about the conspiracy-theory babble-brook known as QAnon, which has been pushing all manner of idiotic, untrue and destructive story lines for the past few years, ranging from the Pizzagate lies about Hillary Clinton and a supposed baby mill run out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor, to boosting the myth that there is a shadowy “deep state” conspiracy against President Donald Trump and his minions, among other wacky notions.

In any event, Boebert is a bit of a right-wing extremist, though one with sufficient political savvy to convince a majority of GOP voters in CD3 that she can do a better hatchet job in Washington than Tipton ever managed.

She also apparently has sufficient sense to not go whole-hog with her support for QAnon and other extreme white-supremacy promoters, instead saying only that it’s her mom’s fault that she even knows about QAnon, because her mom is more “fringe” than Boebert herself.

OK.

I have to say, I was completely surprised by Boebert’s victory, though an uncomfortable portion of the CD3’s population has long been known to harbor a deep love for all things right wing, a tendency I personally observed starting with Ronald Reagan’s 1980 appearance before a noisy, huge throng of supporters at the Grand Junction airport on his way to becoming president. The volume and frenzy of the crowd was frightening proof that the inmates were eager to take control of the asylum.

Fast forward to 2020, and these same nuts are still going strong in the region’s Republican circles.

I’ve been watching Tipton’s arc of success in regional politics over the years, and concluded early on that he was a nasty bit of work and a potentially dangerous addition to the state’s Republican parade of characters and charlatans.

First off, he was elected during the evil days of the racist backlash against President Barack Obama, when the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives, and as such the tone of Tipton’s public pronouncements immediately took on the color and temperament of his party’s attacks on the president and everything Obama wanted to do.

For the past decade Tipton has marched right along with just about any far-fetched theory or policy hatched by an increasingly untethered Republican party, and for the past three-and-a-half years has been a loyal soldier in Trump’s army of intellectually challenged, morally crippled administration.

In tracking emailed alerts and announcements from his office, I’ve noticed that above all else he strove to be noncontroversial in most things. He would offer up legislation that was designed to be inoffensive, pallid in its political positioning: a veritable smorgasbord of milquetoast lawmaking.

In Trump time, he has never challenged the president on even the most egregious policies or proposals, including the federal government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, a lack of spine and common sense that is startling for what it reveals about Tipton’s own thought processes (or lack thereof.)

Now, Boebert comes along and declares that she will hew to Trump’s line of illogic far more closely than Tipton ever did.

Well, I guess that gives us a good starting point for the coming campaign, and my most fervent wish is that the best woman (Mitsch Bush, if you had any doubts) will win out in the end.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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