Seeing 2020 as an opportunity to pick up another seat in Congress, the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sinking money into the race to defeat incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.
The national group, which spent nearly $300 million in congressional races during the 2018 election cycle and picked up far more seats than it had anticipated, has targeted Colorado's 3rd Congressional District as one of the races it intends to focus on in 2020.
And that's starting as of today.
This morning, the DCCC began running its first ads in the race, one that attacks Tipton directly without supporting a Democratic challenger.
Those ads, which are to be targeted to English and Spanish-speaking voters on Facebook, claim that Tipton hasn't held an event open to the public as a congressman, rather than a political candidate, since March 2017.
Tipton's campaign, however, said the congressman holds roundtables and public meetings all the time. Last month, for example, Tipton attended a roundtable meeting in Pueblo. Back in April, he was at a public meeting in Custer County, and was last in Grand Junction in January discussing opioid and heroin abuse.
Roundtable meetings generally are by invitation only. The Custer County event was listed as being open to anyone in the public to attend.
"Congressman Scott Tipton has spent nearly a decade in office looking out for his special interest donors while consistently failing to show up for hardworking Coloradans and voting to both raise the cost of health care and end protections for people with pre-existing conditions," said DCCC spokeswoman Brooke Goren.
Tipton's spokesman, Michael Fortney, said Democrats are just trying to cover for their candidates.
"The leading candidate for the Democrats, Diane Mitsch Bush, donated to the socialist propaganda publication, 'In These Times,'" Fortney said. "They have to make up lies because they have a hard time selling a socialist in western Colorado."
Republicans tried to make an issue of Mitsch Bush's subscription to that publication during last year's race, but the candidate says she's not a socialist and subscribes to many mainstream newspapers.
Still, that issue is expected to continue, particularly now that former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said the party doesn't need "Democratic socialists" in the presidential race, referring to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Both men are vying for the party's nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in next year's presidential race.
Currently, two Democrats have entered the primary race and the right to challenge Tipton. They are Mitsch Bush, a former state representative, and Durango resident Root Rutledge. Mitsch Bush eventually won the nomination in last year's race, while Rutledge never qualified for the ballot.
Other Democratic candidates are expected to come forward, but no on else has so far. One possible contender, Senate President LeRoy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said he's been approached about running, but wouldn't say if he will.
"My focus at this time is serving the people of Senate District 3 and carrying out my duties as Senate president, as well as spending time with my son as he prepares to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy," Garcia said Thursday.
The group won't say what it's spending on the ads or how long they would run.