One party break and some fence-mending in Third Congressional District endorsements |

One party break and some fence-mending in Third Congressional District endorsements

Former House Speaker George backs Mitsch Bush, Boebert earns county commissioners' nod

Russell George
Ellen Jaskol

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported that two Garfield County commissioners endorsed Lauren Boebert. Both Mike Samson and John Martin support Boebert in her campaign for CD3 but have not endorsed her.

Endorsements and words of support are coming in for Third District Congressional candidates Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush and Republican Lauren Boebert, including a notable break from party ranks.

Former Speaker of the Colorado House Russ George, a Rifle native who also directed two state departments under both Republican and Democratic governors, said this week he endorses Mitsch Bush over his party’s nominee to represent the region in Congress.

Meanwhile, two Garfield County Republican officials offered words of support for Boebert. Boebert received an endorsement early on in the campaign season from Sheriff Lou Vallario who is actively campaigning on her behalf.

In a recent interview with the Post Independent, Garfield County Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson, who also are seeking reelection this fall, said they support Boebert, as well.

George endorses Mitsch Bush

“We need pragmatic, steady leaders who will meet the multiple crises we all face in this moment, and Diane Mitsch Bush is that leader,” George said in a statement sent out by the Mitsch Bush campaign on Thursday.

“Her proven bipartisan track record and reputation as an independent leader who was willing to stand up to Democratic leadership in the State House shows me that she will work with anyone to do what’s right for Colorado’s Third Congressional District,” George said.

George is a fourth-generation Rifle native and longtime water attorney before he entered politics.

He was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1992 to represent District 57, which at the time included not only Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, but also Democratic-leaning Pitkin County.

He later served as Speaker of the House in 1999 and 2000, and went on to direct two state agencies — the Department of Natural Resources under Republican Gov. Bill Owens and the Department of Transportation under Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.

He also was appointed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper to the task force that worked to develop the Colorado Water Plan in 2015.

Mitsch Bush, from Steamboat Springs, served in the Colorado House from 2013-17 and is a former Routt County commissioner.

She faces Boebert, an ardent gun-rights advocate and social conservative who defeated five-term incumbent Republican Third District Congressman Scott Tipton in the June primary. Third-party candidates Critter Milton (Unity) and John Keil (Libertarian) are also on the ballot.

Commissioners back Boebert

Garfield County Commissioners John Martin, left, and Mike Samson.

Support for Boebert from Samson and Martin comes despite run-ins earlier this year with the Garfield County Public Health Department over coronavirus-related violations at her Shooters Grill restaurant in Rifle.

“I look at Lauren’s views and her political ideology, which aligns with mine much more closely than that of Diane Mitsch Bush,” Samson said.

Likewise, Martin said he supports the Republican candidate for Congress for many of the same reasons.

“She is inexperienced in government, but long on life,” Martin said. “I have worked with and know Diane Mitsch Bush when she was a county commissioner. She has certain views, some I agree and some I disagree. But [Boebert] is the Republican candidate, which I support.”

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