Tipton camp calls Hickenlooper endorsement of Mitsch Bush ‘bizarre’ | VailDaily.com

Tipton camp calls Hickenlooper endorsement of Mitsch Bush ‘bizarre’

David O. Williams
Special to the Daily

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week endorsed the campaign of fellow Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, as Mitsch Bush, a former state representative and Routt County commissioner, tries to unseat four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election.

"I'm proud to endorse Diane Mitsch Bush for Congress," Hickenlooper was quoted as saying in a news release. "I worked closely with Diane during her time in the Colorado Legislature. … She is both hard working and dedicated to her community. Diane's experience and fact-based legislating would make her a strong voice for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District."

Last year, Mitsch Bush, who lives in Steamboat Springs, resigned her House District 26 seat to take on Tipton. HD26 includes both Routt and Eagle counties, and it is now represented by Eagle deputy district attorney Dylan Roberts, who was named to the seat by a vacancy committee and is now running for re-election against Republican Nicki Mills, of Eagle-Vail.

Tipton's campaign questioned Hickenlooper's endorsement of Mitsch Bush.

"It's bizarre that Gov. Hickenlooper would support someone who is against Jordan Cove and a supporter of a Bernie Sanders-style, government-run health care system, but clearly he is trying to remake himself in the image of the new extremist Democrat Party as he gears up to run for president," Tipton campaign spokesman Matt Connelly wrote in an email.

Jordan Cove

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Jordan Cove is a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on the Oregon coast — originally endorsed by Hickenlooper — that would connect to Colorado's Western Slope gas fields via hundreds of miles of pipelines. The Trump administration earlier this year revived the project.

The Mitsch Bush campaign clarified that she has not officially come out against the Jordan Cove proposal.

"Claiming that Diane is against Jordan Cove is factually inaccurate," a campaign spokesperson said in an email. Mitsch Bush was unavailable to clarify if that means she actually does support the project, which has drawn environmentalist opposition from Colorado to Oregon.

Hickenlooper, a former oil and gas worker turned brewer, restaurateur and Denver mayor, has for years been considered a possible 2020 presidential candidate after he leaves the governor's mansion due to term limits. He joins his gubernatorial predecessor, Democrat Bill Ritter, and former Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Ken Salazar in endorsing Mitsch Bush.

Hickenlooper's endorsement of Mitsch Bush comes just days before the first Tipton-Mitsch Bush debate at the Club 20 fall meeting in Grand Junction. The 22-county Western Slope lobbying group on Saturday, Sept. 8, will also feature a debate between attorney general candidates Democrat Phil Weiser and Republican George Brauchler.

The gubernatorial debate that night will be a one-sided speech by Republican Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton after U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate, declined to attend. Polis, who reportedly had a previous family commitment that conflicted with Club 20, told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel he's more focused on free events than paid debates such as Club 20.

"… The way that they've tried to somehow make this into a Western Slope issue when it just isn't is more problematic for them than me," Polis told the Sentinel. "I think it really hurts their inclusive, bipartisan brand to somehow say that they're the only way to listen to folks in western Colorado."

Stapleton campaign spokesman Jerrod Dobkin issued this statement on the Polis-Club 20 flap:

"As Club 20, who represents 22 rural counties on the Western Slope, has said numerous times, it's a slap in the face to rural Colorado that Congressman Polis has chosen to skip the traditional kickoff to the fall campaign season," Dobkin said.

"Clearly, Congressman Polis does not want to defend his radical positions to rural Coloradans. Walker looks forward to sharing his vision of economic opportunity for all Coloradans with voters on the Western Slope this weekend."

Polis, who has attended dozens of events on the Western Slope in recent weeks, including a 13-stop Labor Day weekend tour, represents the eastern third of Eagle County, which is a member of Club 20. Former Tipton field representative Christian Reece is the current executive director of Club 20, and Tipton represents the western two-thirds of Eagle County.

Also on Saturday at the Club 20 meeting, Roberts will debate Mills, and Republican state Senate District 5 candidate Olen Lund will speak unopposed by incumbent state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat, who will not attend Saturday's debate.