Big names wading into Colorado’s 3rd District race

The fight for the Republican nomination for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District pits not only newcomer Bob McConnell of Steamboat Springs against legislator Scott Tipton of Cortez, it pits two nationally known conservative icons against each other.

Tipton last week crowed that he snagged the endorsement of Dick Morris, the political analyst frequently credited with saving Bill Clinton’s presidency and now frequently featured as a conservative analyst, only to learn this week that McConnell had nailed down an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice-presidential GOP candidate.

McConnell has scheduled a news conference Thursday in Grand Junction to do a little crowing of his own about the Palin endorsement.

McConnell and Palin are vying for the nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat John Salazar in November.

He didn’t seek out Palin, Tipton said, but still, “It was a little bit disappointing that a national person wouldn’t make an effort to vet” the candidates.

He hadn’t heard from Palin or her staff, Tipton said.

Palin’s endorsement was well-timed for McConnell, according to Colorado State University political science professor John Straayer.

Palin’s endorsement outweighs that of Morris, Straayer said Tuesday.

“On balance, Cowboy Bob comes out ahead,” Straayer said, “for the primary.”

If McConnell wins the primary, the Palin endorsement might lose some of its luster.

“Palin doesn’t sell nearly as well to the general public as she does to the more conservative elements in the Republican Party,” Straayer said.

Tipton said he was pleased with his Morris endorsement, noting Morris offered it unbidden.

“He’s the one who brought it up” and delivered an impromptu cell-phone video-camera endorsement, Tipton said.

Morris also delivered a Tipton endorsement Tuesday to readers on his website.

Morris and Palin took aim earlier this year at the 3rd Congressional District, which elected Salazar, a Manassa potato farmer, in the same elections in which GOP presidential candidates George W. Bush and John McCain carried the district.


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