Democrat Mitsch Bush draws contrasts to Boebert in 3rd Congressional District race
Diane Mitsch Bush, Democratic candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, found herself in an interesting spot when Lauren Boebert won the Republican primary in June.
On the one hand, the outcome meant Mitsch Bush wouldn’t have to try to unseat incumbent Scott Tipton, who beat her by 8 points in the 2018 race for the 3rd District seat.
On the other hand, Boebert instantly started raking in attention from local, regional and national media for her hardline stances and gun-toting posture. The 33-year-old newcomer from Rifle has seen her name recognition soar off the charts.
Mitsch Bush, 70, from Steamboat Springs, said she hasn’t analyzed whether Boebert is getting positive or negative attention.
“What I do know is some of the coverage of her and the quotes from her I think concern some people,” Mitsch Bush said this week. “People talk about one in particular. She said, ‘I’ll never compromise.’
“That suggests to me, if you can’t compromise, how are you going to legislate? What you’re going to do is use ideology, rigid ideology on your voting, on your projects and that you’re going to go with party leadership.”
Mitsch Bush said the Republican primary result didn’t catch her off guard. Tipton’s unwillingness to engage with people came back to bite him, she said.
“I wasn’t as surprised as some people were because Scott Tipton didn’t come to the League of Women Voters’ primary forum that all of us went to except him,” Mitsch Bush said. “I’ve known for a long time that he doesn’t do as much in terms of town halls and reaching out to people, so that didn’t surprise me a lot.”
She said facing the political newcomer rather than the five-term incumbent won’t alter her approach to the campaign.
“My strategy has always been to reach out to voters and listen to them,” she said. “I think about what their issues are and I use my skills to bring people together and create legislation and work across the aisle to talk about pragmatic solutions. I’m a pragmatic problem solver. I use evidence rather than ideologue to come up with solutions, so that part isn’t different.”
During this campaign and the one in 2018 plus her four years in the Colorado Legislature from 2013-17, she said she has learned the priority for people is the cost of health care, an economy that provides a living wage for all people and protection of public lands and environment.
“I have detailed programs for those three top issues and Lauren doesn’t,” Mitsch Bush said. “Boebert hasn’t said what her top issues are. She lists a bunch of them — you know, Gods, guns, Trump — but she hasn’t really stated how she is going to solve problems here. The only statement we can see is she wants to repeal the (Affordable Care Act).”
Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District covers 29 counties, from conservative strongholds such as Mesa, Delta and Montrose countries to liberal mountain enclaves such as Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties. Areas such as Pueblo County will likely swing the race one way or another.
In the Republican primary, Boebert clobbered Tipton in Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties. Mitsch Bush won’t write them off.
“All counties are important,” she said. “I’m not going to say, ‘Well, I’m not going to focus on this county if I can’t win it.’ That’s not the point. The point is to get the word out and show people what a stark choice there is between me and my opponent. I am someone who actually legislated, led calmly through disasters ranging from the Swine Flu to the Great Recession to catastrophic wildfires.”
Mitsch Bush emphasizes the differences between her and Boebert. While she uses Boebert’s comments to paint her as an ideologue, she points to her own track record of reaching across the aisle. Mitsch Bush claimed she would “stand up” to Democratic Party leadership in Congress when it is in the best interests of her constituents.
“I am especially known from the state House for working to bring people together and working with my Republican colleagues on water bills, infrastructure bills, on a host of common sense, practical bills that improve people’s lives,” she said. “And unlike my opponent, I know the issues. I understand the issues and I use evidence, not ideology.”
The candidates also contrast in campaign practices. Boebert has held multiple in-person meetings with voters throughout the district during the coronavirus pandemic. Mitsch Bush is relying on a virtual campaign. She has been holding Zoom meetings and hosting roundtable gatherings, including a recent one with ranchers throughout the district.
“I’ve always been an in-person person but this is what we do and it works, and we have good interaction,” Mitsch Bush said.
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The three incumbents are declared, and challengers have until Jan. 25 to gather nominating signatures to run for Glenwood Springs City Council April 6.