Tipton foe Pace willing to ‘buck my party’

Sal Pace, the Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, painted himself as a maverick unafraid to defy his own party leaders.

Pace also told The Daily Sentinel editorial board Monday he regretted two incidents when he was younger.

Pace, twice, was charged with public urination: once as a Fort Lewis College student in Durango and, more recently, in downtown Denver in 2003, when he was working as a staffer on a campaign against Referendum A, which was to build unspecified water projects around the state.

“The hardest part was telling my parents and some day I’m going to have to explain it to my kids,” Pace said.

Pace, a lecturer at Colorado State University-Pueblo, is the father of three young children.

A state legislator from Pueblo who served as House minority leader until he resigned the post last year in order to run for the 3rd Congressional District, Pace said he hasn’t been criticized by Democratic Party officials for his split from traditional party issues, but that he had heard from local Democrats on some matters.

“I’m one of the few Democrats who will buck my party” to support a federal balanced-budget amendment, Pace said.

He also remains a supporter of the Second Amendment much to the chagrin of party regulars, who pressed him on gun-control issues after the shootings this summer at an Aurora theater.

Pace also expressed general support for hydraulic fracturing in natural gas drilling and nuclear power, and expressed qualified support for making Colorado National Monument a national park. Changing the status of the park would have to be done in a way that is “benefitting all the community,” he said.

Pace, whose second round of introductory political advertisements is beginning this week on television, said many of the nation’s economic problems are tied to the gridlock in Congress. He said he is more willing to work with Republicans than Tipton has been with Democrats.

“Hopefully there will be a wave of pragmatists who will get elected to Congress” to resolve federal budget questions that are hindering economic growth, he said.

Pace said he would support a budget measure similar to one outlined by the Simpson-Bowles debt-reduction commission, which recommended a mix of revenue increases and budget cuts to reduce spending by up to $5 trillion over 10 years.

“A package like that certainly makes sense,” he said.

Pace, who was first elected to the Colorado House in 2008, said he has learned to deal with strained budgets, having cut $1 billion a year over his time in Denver largely through cooperative efforts with Republicans.

Pace also said federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing would make no sense if the states already regulate it.

The federal government has a role to play in promoting the use of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel, Pace said, adding that coal also needs to be a part of the nation’s energy mix.

Energy independence remains an important goal, if only to free the nation from having to deal with radical movements and events, such as the attacks on American embassies in the Middle East, he said.

The nation needs to send a strong message to the rest of the world that it doesn’t endorse ideas such as those expressed in an anti-Muslim video that recently sparked violence in Libya. Still, he said attacks on U.S. embassies can’t be tolerated.

The video “reflects badly on our country as a whole,” he said, adding that he is a strong supporter of the First Amendment.

As a freshman at Fort Lewis, Pace said, he also got in trouble when he “jimmied a vending machine” along with others. He was arrested when he refused to identify others who were involved, Pace said.

He paid to repair the machine, and no charges were filed, he said.


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