Scott Tipton trails challenger in early results in Colorado’s 3rd District

Five-term U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton was trailing his Republican challenger in early primary results Tuesday after voters weighed in on active contests on both sides of the aisle in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

As of 7:40 p.m., challenger Lauren Boebert was winning 56% of the vote to Tipton’s 44%. In the Democratic primary, Diane Mitsch Bush had 62% of the vote to James Iacino’s 38%. Voting ended at 7 p.m.

The 3rd District hosted the state’s only competitive congressional primaries, and the winners will face off in the Nov. 3 election.

The sprawling district swoops from northwest Colorado to the southeast plains, drawing together Grand Junction, Pueblo, many mountain towns and most of the San Luis Valley. It’s nearly as large in land area as New York state, but 99% of it is rural.

While home to many areas considered friendly to President Donald Trump, the 3rd District is expected to be competitive this fall — though political handicappers say Democrats likely will have to work for it.

Each primary has pitted a more establishment politician against an outsider looking to shake things up.

“It’s an interesting race (on both sides) in that it’s mirroring a lot of the turbulence that we’re seeing at the national level,” said Paul DeBell, an assistant professor of political science at Fort Lewis College in Durango.

Tipton, 63, has reliably won re-election since he took office in 2011, but this time his first challenge came from the right.

Boebert, 33, a Rifle restaurateur, is an avid 2nd Amendment supporter who wears a gun on her hip. She has questioned whether Tipton is conservative enough and has sufficiently supported Trump, though the congressman from Cortez is a co-chair of the president’s re-election campaign. Trump endorsed Tipton early on and reiterated that support Monday via Twitter.

Meanwhile, the two Democratic hopefuls have portrayed Tipton as too close to Trump. They’ve also framed November’s election as a battle for the future of the country.

Mitsch Bush, 70, lost to Tipton by 8 percentage points in 2018 — unexpectedly the closest congressional race in Colorado. She’s a former state legislator, Routt County commissioner and professor who lives in Steamboat Springs.

The other Democrat, Iacino, 37, is the executive chairman and former CEO of the Seattle Fish Co., operated by his family for generations in Denver. He lives in Ridgway after relocating to the 3rd District from Denver last year.

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