Money matters in Schwartz-Tipton battle for Congress | PostIndependent.com
Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

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Money matters in Schwartz-Tipton battle for Congress

Gail Schwartz might have been a late entry in the race for the Third Congressional District, but it hasn't stopped the Crested Butte Democrat from leading the latest round in campaign fundraising.

Schwartz, who has hauled in $1.34 million through Sept. 30 in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez, raised $718,013 from July 1 through Sept. 30, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Tipton, a three-term congressman, brought in $392,619 during that same period.

Even so, Tipton has still outraised the former Aspen and Snowmass Village resident by more than $300,000, reporting $1.55 million raised through Sept. 30.

Through the end of last month, Tipton also had more than four times as much cash in hand as Schwartz did — $859,103 to $211,975.

The sprawling 3rd Congressional District covers the Western Slope and includes Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin among its 37 counties.

Tipton, first elected in 2010, has been tapped as the favorite for re-election in the Republican-leaning district. Schwartz, who announced her candidacy in April, has mounted a formidable challenge, but websites such as electionprojection.com and centforpolitics.org give Tipton the edge.

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With the homestretch now underway toward Election Day on Nov. 8, Pitkin County Democratic Party Chair Howard Wallach said television viewers can expect to see an onslaught of political ads.

"I'm sorry to say that television advertising is critical," he said. "This is a huge district and that's probably the best way to reach people in this district. You have to stay on top of it with your messaging."

Concerns have rippled through the Schwartz camp that a well-heeled GOP donor such as a Koch brother or Americans for Prosperity will "drop a ton of money at the last second and buy every second of airtime," Wallach said.

Pitkin County Republican Chair Bob Jenkins, however, noted that such Democratic heavyweights as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Pat Stryker have buoyed the Schwartz campaign with substantial donations.

"This is an unusual election," Jenkins said, noting the Donald Trump factor will certainly impact the Schwartz-Tipton contest.

"We're not worried about (Schwartz's) money," he said. "She has very little name recognition in the district and the name recognition she does have isn't good.

"But let's be honest: If Hillary (Clinton) wins, Gail Schwartz's chances will improve dramatically more. If the (presidential) race is close, I seriously doubt she can beat Tipton."

The Republican Party controls the House with 246 representatives. All 435 seats are up for election in November.