Pace’s pragmatism right prescrition for removing congressional gridlock.

Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform organizations just plunked down $1.3 million for a new anti-Sal Pace ad campaign on all the Colorado cable channels.

Somebody must be worried.

Incumbent 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton is in the final weeks of a tight contest with former state Rep. Sal Pace. Although the polls show the two candidates essentially tied, apparently Norquist fears the tide is turning for Pace.

Tipton has already sworn allegiance to Norquist’s organization by signing the group’s Tax Payer Protection Pledge. This oath commits those who sign it to never raise taxes, and to “oppose ... efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates, and ... to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

The rigid adherence to Republican dogma that makes it impossible for Tipton to compromise has given Sal Pace a fair shot at at replacing him in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As voters become increasingly impatient with the stalemate in Congress, Pace presents an alternative.

A protégé of former Congressman John Salazar, Pace shares his mentor’s Blue Dog conservative Democratic values.

To underscore the point, Pace has been endorsed by the Blue Dog PAC for his “commitment to commonsense policies to put our country back on a path to fiscal soundness and economic prosperity.”

While incumbent Tipton has been a willing participant in the obstructionism that has paralyzed Congress for the past two years, Pace has a record of reaching across the aisle as a Colorado House member and a term as House Minority Leader.

During the most recent House session, Pace was able to pass four of his five bills, despite being in the minority.

Meantime, in Congress Tipton has been unsuccessful at passing any legislation. He’s had four bills that passed the House but failed in the Senate. It is still possible that his small hydro bill might pass, but it is unlikely to have a large economic effect.

As the Aspen Times said of Pace in its endorsement, “The district would benefit from a leader who is willing to work on both sides of the political aisle to accomplish what’s best for the entire area.”

After the first debate between the two, the Alamosa Valley Courier pointed out that Pace and Tipton agree on many issues.

“The two candidates agreed that: more services should be provided for military veterans; the Environmental Protection Agency has over-extended its authority and should be reined in; the Second Amendment right to bear arms should be protected; education, jobs and small businesses should be legislative priorities; and military expansion in the Piñon Canyon area would be a bad idea,” the Courier newspaper said.

Beyond these issues, the differences become clear. Pace opposes the Ryan budget that would move toward allowing privatized Social Security accounts and would allow future retirees who are not yet 55 years old to choose between the existing Medicare program or private health insurance.

Pace would support the tax break for wind energy production that Republicans, including Tipton, have blocked, causing serious job losses in Colorado.

As former a Colorado House Minority leader and a member of that body since 2009, Sal Pace has proved his support for clean air and water and healthy public lands and wildlife in Colorado.

“People are tired of inaction,” Pace said. “They are tired of nothing getting done even though people agree on so much.

“I’m more interested in getting things done instead of continuing the rigid ideology and gridlock,” he added.

After four years of GOP gridlock, Pace’s pragmatism will be a welcome change from Tipton’s rigidity and obstructionism.

Whether he serves in Congress as an ally of President Obama during a second Obama term, or as part of the loyal opposition during the administration of Mitt Romney, Sal Pace will put the interests of his constituents ahead of party agendas to be a strong voice for western Colorado.

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


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