GOP candidates get ready for a showdown

Republicans seeking Senate, House and governor's seats will square off at assembly this weekend

With just days before Colorado Republicans take their first measure of them, candidates and their backers are gearing up for their first direct confrontations.

The two Republicans vying for the nomination for the 3rd Congressional District, Scott Tipton and Bob McConnell, will have exactly that. The two seeking the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate, Ken Buck and Jane Norton, won’t meet directly, but already have taken shots at one another.

So far, the most quiet pair have been the Republicans running for the gubernatorial slot, Dan Maes and Scott McInnis.

McConnell, a Steamboat Springs resident and self-described recovering attorney, fretted about his inability to corner Tipton in a debate. No easy task that, as Tipton, a state representative from Cortez, was in session until last week.

“Scott never responds to debate requests, period,” McConnell wrote to the Sentinel. “Well, after I publicly requested debates on camera on March 4th, he turned to me and said ‘I have a job.’ Probably not for long.”

Tipton’s campaign said he had no time to debate McConnell because Tipton’s schedule already was set.

Jennifer Bailey, president of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, said McConnell did himself no favors in that appearance before her group on March 4. McConnell’s call for neighborhood clinics to be put in vacant homes staffed by formerly unemployed people trained to act as nurses or emergency medical technicians was “anticapitalist,” Bailey said.

McConnell and Tipton will ask delegates for their votes during the 3rd Congressional District assembly Friday at the Budweiser Convention Center in Loveland. If both make the primary ballot, the winner will face U.S. Rep. John Salazar in November.

The state party is to gather Saturday in the same location, but candidate Jane Norton won’t be there. She opted to get on the August primary ballot by petition, leaving the convention to Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney.

That hasn’t stopped sparks from flying between Norton and Buck, though.

Norton claimed the mantle of the “pink elephants” who would change the election, as described by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Palin is to be in Denver on Saturday, not long after Buck, a tea party favorite, is expected to nail down a spot in the primary.

Buck called it “rude” that Palin might steal the show Saturday.

Palin is “welcome in Colorado any time, any place,” Cinamon Watson, Norton campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.


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