Steamboat Springs Republican Scott Tipton, a Cortez businessman and state legislator, will move his lawmaking career from the Capitol in Denver to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The fiery Tipton rode a nationwide Republican wave Tuesday and unseated Democratic U.S. Rep. John Salazar to earn a seat in Congress, representing the 3rd Congressional District that spans the Western Slope and extends to Pueblo in south-central Colorado. According to The Denver Post early this morning, Tipton won 49.1 percent of the vote compared to Salazar’s 46.8 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting results across the 29-county district. Tipton received 122,735 votes compared with Salazar’s 116,908, the Post reported.
Contrary to the overall result, Salazar had a strong showing in Routt County, where he won 5,411 votes compared with 3,615 for Tipton. That’s a difference of 59.9 percent to 40.1 percent, according to votes tallied by late Tuesday night. More than 3,400 mail ballots were not yet counted by 1:30 a.m. today.
Tipton’s victory represents a reversal of the district’s Congressional election four years ago. Salazar, a San Luis Valley farmer, defeated Tipton with 62 percent of the district’s vote in 2006.
“It’s been a long hard fight and I’m very gratified to have been successful in this campaign,” Tipton said in a news release.
Tipton ran a stronger campaign the second time around. He defeated Republican military veteran Bob McConnell, of Steamboat Springs, in a contentious August primary, in which both sides courted tea party votes.
In the general election, Tipton repeatedly attacked Salazar’s record in Congress — focusing on Salazar’s support of health care reform legislation and the stimulus package, for example — while working to attach Salazar to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.
Tipton said during the campaign that the past two years have seen “rabid, irresponsible government spending sprees that are going to bankrupt America. John Salazar voted with (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi for a budget with a trillion-dollar deficit, he voted for the failed $787 billion stimulus, and he voted to increase the national debt ceiling to over $14 trillion. Then he voted to reduce Medicare by over $500 billion.”
Salazar, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, did not back down from his votes for the $787 billion stimulus package and the health care reform legislation made law in March.
Salazar campaigned on a message of the long path to economic recovery, saying he and Obama’s administration have taken the correct steps that prevented a deeper economic downfall.
“What we have done has been incredible,” Salazar said. “I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do over the past two years.”
But Salazar cautioned that emerging from a recession will take time.
Voters in western and southern Colorado apparently didn’t agree with Salazar’s call for patience.
Tipton has said if elected, he would reduce the government’s non-defense spending by 10 percent across the board. Earlier this year, Tipton spoke about slashing government in half during the primary campaign against McConnell.
Tipton supports a flat 10 percent rate for capital gains taxes and corporate taxes, to stimulate entrepreneurship, and repeatedly cited his more than 30 years as a successful businessman in southwestern Colorado. He’s said that experience taught him to balance a budget and create jobs.
Salazar first won the 3rd Congressional District seat in a November 2004 election against Greg Walcher, of Palisade. He defeated Tipton in 2006 and Wayne Wolf, of Delta County, in 2008.