Tipton rolls McConnell in GOP battle for House seat

Scott Tipton talks with Larry and Rose Mary Hegstrom of Grand Junction at an election party on Tuesday night. Tipton cruised to victory over Bob McConnell.

Scott Tipton, a Cortez businessman and state legislator, on Tuesday got what he’s been wanting now for some time: a shot at Congress with the wind at his back.

Tipton, a Republican, lost the general election in 2006 to 3rd Congressional District incumbent Democrat John Salazar in a year in which winds were strongly against Republicans and the Democrats took over Congress. Salazar coasted to a 61-percent-to-37-percent victory over Tipton that year.

This year, with political winds apparently having reversed, Tipton has a second chance at Salazar. Tipton defeated upstart Bob McConnell, a Steamboat Springs Republican, 55 percent to 45 percent in the Republican primary Tuesday.

In Mesa County, Tipton outpolled McConnell 54 percent to 42 percent.

McConnell pinned much of his hope on the tea party movement, but Tipton said he was able to bring many elements of that movement into his corner. His bid was “the only one that showed the ability to reach all the elements of the Republican Party and the conservative movement,” Tipton said Tuesday.

Salazar, seeking his fourth term, had no primary opponent.

Tipton rarely if ever mentioned McConnell as he campaigned in the 3rd Congressional District, preferring to attack Salazar and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an approach he took in the 2006 campaign without success.

This time around, Tipton said at a post-campaign stop in Grand Junction, he’ll beat the same drum.

“We’ll keep our message on the goal of taking back the 3rd CD seat,” he said.

Tipton said he will continue attacking Salazar as having “tied himself to the Pelosi agenda when he went to Washington.”

McConnell, a retired Army colonel and self-described “recovering lawyer,” who watched results in Pueblo, said he will endorse Tipton.

McConnell worked to capitalize on backing from tea party elements in western and southern Colorado, but ultimately he was unable to overcome Tipton.

McConnell acknowledged he lost and good-naturedly added, “But I’ve been in worse fights.”


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