Four-way race for Democratic Party nomination to face Rep. Scott Tipton in 3rd Congressional District | VailDaily.com

Four-way race for Democratic Party nomination to face Rep. Scott Tipton in 3rd Congressional District

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — What had been a two-way race among Democrats in the 3rd Congressional District to win the party's nomination and face Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the fall mid-term election has grown to four.

Up until last month, former Routt County commissioner and three-term state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush from Steamboat Springs, and Karl Hanlon of Carbondale, a water and municipal attorney practicing in Glenwood Springs, had been the only two candidates vying for the nomination heading into the spring political cycle.

Since that time, however, Arn Menconi, an outspoken social justice advocate from Carbondale, who's a former Eagle County commissioner and past Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, has entered the Democratic race. Also in the running is Root Routledge, a military veteran and self-described "independent progressive Democrat," who raises horses in Durango.

One independent candidate, Mary Malarsie of Durango, has also filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for Colorado's 3rd District seat this year. Unlike in the 2016 election cycle, so far no other Republican candidates have stepped up to challenge Tipton, the four-term congressman from Cortez, for the GOP nomination.

County Democrat and Republican party assemblies are taking place in the coming weeks, including this Saturday in Garfield County, continuing the formal nominating process for county, state and national offices. Nominations will be forwarded from the state assemblies in April, and voters will decide the Republican and Democratic candidates in the June 26 primary elections.

Last week's precinct party caucuses saw a mix of support for the two top Democratic contenders, Mitsch Bush and Hanlon. Not all caucuses conducted straw polls in the congressional race, however. Not even half of the precincts in Garfield County took a straw poll, Garfield Democratic Chairwoman Gretchen Brogdon said, "so our data wouldn't be representative," she said.

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The Hanlon campaign did issue a press release claiming a win in the La Plata County Democratic Precinct Caucus straw poll. In that southwestern Colorado county, Hanlon was favored by more than 60 percent of caucus goers, to Mitsch Bush's 29 percent and Routledge's 3.2 percent.

An early Democratic candidate in the race, Grand Junction City Councilman Chris Kennedy, withdrew from the race in December, and has since endorsed Hanlon for the nomination.

Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat, was the party's first announced candidate for the congressional seat held by Tipton since 2011.

She entered the race in July of last year. Since then, Mitsch Bush has picked up endorsements from several Democratic state representatives who served with her in the Colorado House of Representatives. Among them are Rep. Barbara McLachlan of Durango, Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, Rep. Jessie Danielson, and House Majority Leader KC Becker.

Menconi, a social justice advocate, decided in late February to enter the Democratic race for the congressional seat. He announced on his Facebook page Monday that his campaign has collected the 1,000 signatures required to petition his way on to the June 26 primary ballot, indicating he intends to forego the party assembly nomination process.

"Within 11 days we talked to thousands of voters about banning assault weapons, banning fracking and impeaching Trump," he said. "This is a revolution from the inside of the party to run on the issues people want, not bankers, oil and gas, big pharm and big agriculture."

Durango's Routledge also filed in late February for the Democrat's consideration. Routledge is a Vietnam veteran who was elected in 2016 by the 3rd District as a Democratic national delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders. He is a member of the Colorado State Democratic Party Central Committee.