Former legislator Tapia wants to unseat Tipton

Abel Tapia, a former Democratic state legislator from Pueblo and just-retired director of the Colorado Lottery, will line up to oppose incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez.

Tapia, who served in the Colorado House and Senate, said Monday he was troubled by polling that found confidence in Congress to be low and said he would tour the 3rd Congressional District — an area roughly the size of Florida — to learn “what issues drive people” in towns from Grand Junction to Durango and Craig to Pueblo.

Tapia said he was urged to run after Pueblo County Commissioner Liane “Buffie” McFadyen dropped her short-lived candidacy last week, leaving Democrats without a strong candidate, though a man living in the Colorado Mental Health Institute has filed papers to run for the job as a Democrat.

Tapia, an engineer by training, was elected to the state House in 1998 and to the state Senate in 2003, where he remained until he was appointed to head the Colorado Lottery in 2010.

“I served in the minority party and in the majority party” during his time in the Legislature, “and I was successful in both” roles, Tapia said.

He attributed that success to his engineering background, noting that “I’m a problem solver.”

His legislative service coincided in part with that of Tipton, as well as with Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Ed Perlmutter, both now in Congress, Tapia said.

His major issue so far is the image of Congress and “just the perception that our representatives are out of touch with the voters,” Tapia said. “There’s a lot that can be done to correct that.”

He’s fortunate to have the chance to seek a seat in Congress, Tapia said, noting that he supported John Salazar when Salazar ran for an open seat in 2004 and backed McFadyen’s bid until she backed out.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Tapia said of his chance to run for Congress. “How many people get to do this?”


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