Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush won her bid Tuesday for a second shot at representing the 3rd Congressional District, but it won’t be against U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.
While Mitsch Bush easily won the Democratic Party’s nomination over political neophyte James Iacino — she lost to Tipton two years ago — the congressman was soundly defeated in his attempt to win the GOP’s nomination to run for a sixth term in Congress.
Instead, the gun-wielding Rifle restaurant owner Lauren Boebert will be on the fall ballot.
Iacino, who conceded the race early in the evening, had earned a lot of endorsements from leading Democrats in the state, including the man whom Tipton unseated back in 2010, former U.S. Rep. John Salazar. But it wasn’t enough to persuade voters. Mitsch Bush still earned nearly two-thirds of the vote over Iacino, who vowed to back her in the general election.
“I’m proud to stand with Diane Mitsch Bush because my priorities are the same as they were then, and I know she will fight for what is right and bring a real voice back to the 3rd District,” Iacino said.
And even though Tipton had an endorsement from President Donald Trump, Boebert campaigned on being more of a Trump supporter than the congressman, repeatedly attacking him on some of his stances in Congress and accusing him of siding too often with Democrats.
She ended up with about 55% of the vote. While Tipton led in his home counties of La Plata and Montezuma, he lost by wider margins in other, more populated counties. More than 64% of Mesa County GOP voters cast their ballots for Boebert.
“I was tired of our representative remaining silent,” Boebert said. “I firmly believe that if we remain silent on the issues that matter to us, we will lose by default. And now I’m ready to take that same fight to the Democrats starting tomorrow.”
Up until now, Tipton had easily handled all of his primary challengers during his 10 years in office. In 2016, he won with nearly 79% of the primary vote, and in 2014, he soundly defeated Palisade resident David Cox, garnering 74% of the vote. He didn’t have primary challengers in 2012 or 2018, but in 2010, he won 56% of Republicans to win the nomination.
Tipton’s wins in general elections, however, have slipped in recent years, going as high as 58% in 2016 to only 51% two years ago, his slimmest margin since narrowly winning the seat when he was first elected.
Tipton released an email statement congratulating Boebert late Tuesday night.
“3rd District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November. I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”
How those margins will look in a Boebert-Mitsch Bush contest in the general election is anybody’s guess. The expansive district, which stretches from Pueblo to Durango to Craig, is primarily dominated by unaffiliated voters, who command 38% of the vote. Still, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district 33% to 27%.
During this year’s primary races, unaffiliated voters turned out in droves. By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the latest statistics available, 435,190 unaffiliated voters had cast ballots, about two-thirds of which were in the Democratic primary.
That’s most likely because there was no statewide contested race on the Republican ticket. On the Democratic side, former Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff for that party’s nomination, and the right to run against GOP U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in November.
Managing Editor Dale Shrull contributed to this report.