According to the Cortez Journal, businessman Scott Tipton is all but certain to run against Rep. John Salazar (D-Manassa) in the 3rd District. If he ends up running, he'll provide a bit more of a challenge to Salazar than the other presumptive candidate, State Rep. Josh Penry.
Tipton, who hails from Cortez and owns a pottery business, is taking a long, hard look at the race. "I'm taking a serious and aggressive look at this," Tipton said Saturday at the GOP's State Central Committee meeting. "I plan to visit many of our (29) counties in the 3rd District to get some feedback and see about, in some capacity, forming an exploratory committee."
Absent a challenge from Penry, Tipton would be squaring off against the elder member of a burgeoning Colorado politcal dynasty. He mentioned that Salazar was a "pleasant fellow", and that, notably, "he would always vote correctly on issues such as water, agriculture and multiple use." Then, in an attempt to justify why voters should vote for him if Salazar would be such a credit to the district, he said that in a GOP-controlled Congress, the district would be better off with a Republican in that seat, since presumably he'd be able to swing more pork from his fellow partisans.
Why is a Tipton candidacy such a noteworthy event? For one, it seems that as a party fundraiser and a two-time regional chairman for Ronald Reagan in his two successful Presidential races, Tipton has the capacity to more than adequately fund a campaign against an incumbent in one of the country's largest Congressional districts.
For another, it seems as if the majority of the state's GOP establishment is lining up to endorse Tipton if, in fact, he ends up running. Both Scott McInnis and Bill Owens referred to Tipton as an outstanding candidate and possible Congressman, with McInnis stating that he'd make "a formidable candidate and public servant."
Despite all the support, however, there may be a third contestant in the primary.
Matt Smith, who lost to Greg Walcher in the '04 primary, is considering running again. He's currently hedging his options because he's been nominated as Deputy Director of the Dept. of the Interior's Water & Science office by Ken Salazar, in a possible move to block a potential candidacy by Smith against the elder Salazar. But he stated at the Central Committee shindig that he "might jump in. But it's difficult to take on an incumbent. We're holding on to see what happens." If the nomination doesn't get confirmed, he may join the race for Congress, or he may decide to run for the State Senate for the seat currently held by Sen. Ron Teck (R-Grand Junction), who's retiring.