Democrats put Scott Tipton on their hit list for 2012

If the political pundits at are right, freshman Colorado 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton may pay a high price for his endorsement of Rep. Paul Ryan’s radical budget proposal and other radical right schemes.

In his endorsement of Ryan’s budget, Tipton says he “cuts $6.2 trillion in spending over the next 10 years and places our country on a sustainable course to preserve our children’s and grandchildren’s future.”

Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman dismissed it as “voodoo economics.”

“This plan isn’t remotely serious; on the contrary, it’s ludicrous,” he wrote. “And its also cruel.”

Ryan achieves savings by cutting programs that serve the middle class and poor, while providing new tax breaks for the richest Americans.

Congressional Democrats quickly branded Ryan’s proposal as a “privatization scheme” that would end Medicare.

Because GOP House leaders are forcing legislators to take a yes-or-no position on the Ryan budget, one Republican operative said, “They’re hanging ... 20 vulnerable members out to dry for the sake of placating the 220 safe members ... You have a couple dozen members who are going to pay a pretty serious price for this vote if they end up in a tough race.”

One of those freshmen is Tipton. According to Colorado Pols, he “is considered to be one of the top 2012 Democratic congressional targets in the entire nation ... (and an) unusually good opportunity to take a seat right back from the ‘2010 wave’.”

As Tipton puts his seat in jeopardy by plunging more deeply into radical Republican ideology, it is easy to forget that he campaigned as a “small businessman, legislator and conservative Republican” who hardly seemed a right wing extremist.

That role was reserved for his opponent, Bob McConnell, who described himself as “a man of faith, (and) a Constitution-carrying conservative.”

Third District moderate Republicans and independents may have perceived Tipton as the more moderate candidate. Instead they elected a ringer: an extremist ideologically indistinguishable from his Republican primary opponent.

Campaigning as a pragmatic conservative, Tipton clearly sought to establish himself as the establishment candidate against tea party favorite McConnell.

Tipton got the endorsement of GOP establishment figures like Sens. Hank Brown and Bill Armstrong, former Congressman Scott McInnis, former Gov. Bill Owens, and other mainstream Colorado Republicans.

In Republican stronghold Mesa County, Tipton was endorsed by the “Western Slope Conservative Alliance,” the more establishment wing of the local tea party groups.

McConnell was endorsed by the more libertarian Grand Junction Results group in Mesa County. He also got the endorsement of conservative southern Colorado tea party groups.

Tipton assured his primary victory by defeating McConnell 54 to 42 percent in Mesa County.

Many GOP politicians run to the right, then shift toward the center after being elected. Tipton ran from the center and now has shifted entirely to the right.

His lock-step with the House conservatives bears little resemblance to the more moderate figure who beat Bob McConnell in the Republican primary.

Nor did this right-wing ideology-driven Tipton emerge during his run against Democratic incumbent John Salazar.

As The Daily Sentinel opined in its editorial endorsement of Tipton, “The Cortez businessman is not some fire-breathing right winger.”

McConnell, the Sentinel said, “repeatedly attempted to paint Tipton as too liberal.”

But, “he’s not a liberal,” the Sentinel said. “During two years in the Colorado Legislature, Tipton has developed a moderate Republican reputation.”

The Denver Post’s Nancy Lofholm saw Tipton earning the support of “mainstream Republicans as well as conservative grass roots groups.”

Even Colorado Pols was taken in by Tipton’s moderate image. “Tipton is widely regarded as the establishment candidate,” and a “politician poison to western Colorado Tea Partiers,” their correspondent wrote. “Indeed much of McConnell’s support comes from an alliance of Tea Party affinity groups.”

Tipton didn’t win his seat by catering to the most conservative elements of his district, but that is the record he will be forced to defend in 2012.

From ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, to big new tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, Tipton has bought the whole right-wing package.

If he does lose in 2012, it won’t be because his base left him. It was he who deserted the moderates in his base.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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