Editorial: Hanlon a solid pick for 3rd CD nomination | PostIndependent.com

Editorial: Hanlon a solid pick for 3rd CD nomination

Karl Hanlon
Hal Williams Photography Inc |

Voters in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District who choose to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary that concludes June 26 have a difficult and very important decision to make.

The three candidates vying for the right to face Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in November — Diane Mitsch Bush, Karl Hanlon and Arn Menconi — each brings a unique perspective and a keen sense of the issues that are important to people in the 3rd District.

Each offers a different level of experience, and each has proven in their different capacities in the public, private and nonprofit sectors over the years that they have the ability to build relationships and get things done.

Eight years ago, Tipton billed himself as the business-friendly candidate, admittedly with little political experience, in challenging the incumbent Democrat at the time, John Salazar. He portrayed Salazar as a Washington insider who had forgotten his constituents and the issues important to people back home, especially small business owners who were feeling overly regulated.

It was a message that resonated with voters in the 3rd District, who aren’t as big on political experience and who remain leery of government regulation. When it comes to picking their congressional representative, they’re also inclined to pick someone they can relate to, and who can relate to them.

Tipton has been the favorite by a comfortable margin against three different Democratic challengers in subsequent elections since riding the tea party coattails into office in 2010, and may very well continue to be.

If Democrats want to deliver on predictions that the 3rd District could be a swing House seat in the upcoming mid-term elections, they need a candidate who can challenge Tipton on those same merits.

That person is “citizen candidate” Karl Hanlon.

Hanlon grew up on a ranch in northern Colorado, currently raises livestock and helps run a nonprofit on a ranch in Missouri Heights outside Carbondale, and is a respected water and municipal attorney practicing in Glenwood Springs.

Mitsch Bush is the most experienced politician among the three, having served three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives and two terms as a Routt County commissioner. She has a strong record of working across the aisle to build trust and get legislation passed. She would be a formidable candidate should she receive the nod from a majority of those casting Democratic ballots next week, and would sufficiently challenge Tipton and the Trump agenda.

Menconi, the self-described “radical” and “socialist” in the race, has been a powerful voice on social justice issues, as an Eagle County commissioner in the early 2000s and as a loud voice for the people ever since. He founded and has run a successful nonprofit that provides outdoor experiences for at-risk youth. He cares about the challenges people face, and the people who face them.

We believe Hanlon also hears and listens to people across the political spectrum, but with a filter that translates for people who aren’t solidly partisan in any way. That’s the key to making a case against the incumbent in the 3rd Congressional District.

Hanlon knows the top issue in the district is that of health care and health insurance costs, and that it may not be prudent to take up a long, protracted fight for a single-payer system just yet, not ahead of a focus on fixing the Affordable Care Act in the interim.

His is a perspective that can also resonate with 3rd District voters on important public lands issues, agricultural concerns, veterans affairs, and what’s one of the single-most-critical issues facing the American West, water policy.

Karl Hanlon has proven his ability to negotiate on behalf of Glenwood Springs as city attorney on important community infrastructure issues. As a Roaring Fork school board member, he also helped broker an agreement that led to the smooth transition between superintendents Diana Sirko and Rob Stein, and he was instrumental in ensuring that teacher housing be part of the most-recent bond issue.

For these and a host of other reasons, we encourage primary voters to give Karl Hanlon the nod in the 3rd District contest.