State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush files 2018 challenge to Congressman Tipton | SteamboatToday.com

State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush files 2018 challenge to Congressman Tipton

Colorado State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, representing Routt and Eagle counties, confirmed Thursday, she will step down from her post in the state legislature in November in order to launch a bid to unseat Congressman Scott Tipton in the 2018 race for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District.

"I filed with the federal election commission this morning," the former two-term Routt County commissioner and current Steamboat Springs resident said Thursday.

The cost of getting elected to Congress has been rising rapidly, and her formal declaration means Mitsch Bush is free to begin fundraising. She may need a bushel of money to shake hands across the 29 counties and 54,000 square miles of the sprawling 3rd Congressional District. The "Third" comprises all of Colorado's Western Slope and the southeast corner of the Front Range, including the city of Pueblo.

"I probably will need to raise $4 million," Mitsch Bush said. "I'm going to chunk it out – this quarter ends Sept. 30, and my goal is to raise $400,000. Next year, I'll need to purchase  television (ads) in five markets. That makes it quite expensive."

The candidate's projected war chest compares to the $1.5 million Tipton spent in 2016 to hold off former state legislator Gail Schwartz, who spent $1.4 million on her campaign.

Asked if the Democratic National Committee is targeting her challenge to Tipton, she replied, “To my knowledge, at this time, they are not. I've spoken with them on a number of occasions, but I don't know if I'll get support from them."

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Tipton defeated Schwartz, a respected legislator from Crested Butte, with 54.6 percent of the vote to 40.3 percent for his challenger. Libertarian Gaylon Kent collected 5.1 percent of the vote.

Tipton garnered 204,220 of the 374,037 ballots cast in the district.

Asked how she plans to succeed where Schwartz did not, Mitsch Bush said, "The thing I learned from Gail's race is to start early."

Although Mitsch Bush is already ramping up her 2018 campaign – she has engaged a compliance officer and a finance director – the candidate says she remains devoted to her role on two interim committees in the Colorado legislature that will work on vetting prospective legislation late into the fall. She is the chairperson of the Interim Transportation Legislation Review Committee and a member of the Interim Water Resources Review Committee.

"My role on those two (bipartisan) committees is critical," Mitsch Bush said. "I like to do a good job at everything. You cannot be a good state rep and at the same time run," a campaign in a geographically vast district.

In addition to her legislative obligations, she intends to continue being responsive to her constituents who call daily to discuss their problems.

Once her work on the interim committees is done in the second week of November, Mitsch Bush will formally resign her seat, and Democratic party members from Eagle and Routt will convene a vacancy committee to name an interim state representative to be sworn in and serve out the balance of Mitsch Bush’s two-year term.

Tipton kicked off a series of town hall meetings in April 2017 in Montrose, Alamosa and Pueblo, and on June 20, hosted a call-in constituent meeting from his office in Washington, D.C.

Tipton has been a formidable candidate in the 3rd District. He unseated incumbent John Salazar in 2010 and has not been threatened since.

Mitsch Bush said this week she believes the incumbent is vulnerable over his stands on healthcare legislation, public lands management policies, workers’ rights and women's rights.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

If you go

What:Colorado State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush plans to formally introduce her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives to a hometown audience

When: 5:30 p.m., July 12

Where: In front of the Routt County Courthouse