The only thing more unappetizing than the thought of giving Scott Tipton a fifth term in the U.S. House is having a Jordan Cove opponent representing Colorado's expansive 3rd Congressional District.
While Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush hasn't formally come out against a proposed pipeline that would move Piceance Basin natural gas to a liquefication terminal on the Oregon coast for shipment to Asian markets, the questions she's raised indicate she's no ally of the $9.8 billion project.
That puts her at odds with a bipartisan group of statewide elected officials who unequivocally support Jordan Cove, including Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, and Tipton, the incumbent Republican who represents the Western Slope.
Mitsch Bush has questioned the market for the gas and how many jobs associated with the project would benefit Colorado. She makes a fair point that Congress wouldn't have oversight, because permitting and approval lie with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
But this is a project that the Western Slope needs. It comes with long-term natural gas supply contracts, which could mitigate the industry's boom-and-bust cycle and provide severance tax revenues to help area school districts.
To have a representative in Congress not fully on board with a project this important to the district she represents isn't just a case of bad optics; it's a potential threat to approval.
Mitsch Bush is a highly qualified candidate who impressed us with her understanding of the district's biggest challenges and opportunities. If she was 100-percent behind Jordan Cove, this would be a different endorsement.
Tipton hasn't distinguished himself as a particularly dynamic leader in Washington, D.C. We've characterized him as an "underutilized asset" who has failed to strike the moderate tone we think the district deserves. He more or less embraces the direction of the Trump administration while doing just enough to advance bills to benefit the district.
For example, he's advocated for greater protection from forest fires and supported the Choice Act to give veterans the option of getting medical treatment where they live instead of having to travel to the nearest Veterans Affairs hospital. He supports directing more royalties from new development on federal land to education and has looked out for the interests of steel producers in Pueblo amid Trump's tariff war.
As one of 435 representatives in the House, Tipton's impact will always be marginal — especially because he's no firebrand. But if Democrats seize the majority in the House, Tipton will revert back to the obstructionist we came to know during the Obama years. In that regard, Mitsch Bush would be the better choice for getting something accomplished.
That's why we're disappointed that she hasn't used the prospect of majority power to hammer home her support of Jordan Cove.