Rep. Scott Tipton Faces A Primary Challenger Who Questions His Record, And Whether He’s Trump Enough

June 22, 2020
Lauren Boebert and Scott Tipton are both vying for the Republican nomination for the 3rd congressional district.Lauren Boebert and Scott Tipton are both vying for the Republican nomination for the 3rd congressional district.
Lauren Boebert and Scott Tipton are both vying for the Republican nomination for the 3rd congressional district.

Last December, Republican Rep. Scott Tipton received an early Christmas present. The endorsement of President Donald Trump.

Lauren Boebert doesn’t think Trump had all the facts.

“I don’t believe President Trump has been briefed on Mr. Tipton’s voting record. Had he had known Mr. Tipton’s voting record, that endorsement would not have gone out,” she says.

Boebert is a business owner and a political novice challenging Tipton’s conservative credentials in the June 30 primary. The 3rd Congressional District is the state’s largest and a mainly rural area. It’s been a reliable Republican seat for the last decade.

Boebert placed first in the Colorado GOP district assembly, but she faces an uphill fight against the incumbent. She doesn’t have the support of the party and her fundraising has trailed Tipton’s.

Jim Hill, CPR News / OpenStreetMap, CARTO
Colorado's 3rd Congressional District

Yet, as her campaign ad points out, she is pro-Trump and pro-gun. In fact, she owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colorado, a restaurant known for servers who are armed and open carry.

The upstart candidate claims the true Trump mantle. And just as the president has been known to promote conspiracy theories, Boebert isn’t dismissive of QAnon, a conspiracy theory alleging a “deep state” attack on Trump, and other allegations against Democratic politicians. On a Q-friendly web show, Boebert, based on what she heard about Q, said: “I hope that this is real.”

“It only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values and that’s what I am for,” she went on to say.

If elected, she’ll join the Freedom Caucus, made up of conservatives and Libertarians who advocate for small government and fiscal restraint. She’ll also support health care reform, allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines. She says she would even consider nuclear energy.

Most importantly, Boebert will stand her political ground.

“I’m tired of compromise and I believe that the American people are tired of compromise. It’s never enough for the people on the left. We compromise with them far too much, and they always want more,” she explains.

She doesn’t think Tipton’s voting record reflects the values of the 3rd District, saying he’s voted with Democrats too many times.

That includes the coronavirus relief bill known as the CARES Act, which President Trump signed into law. Boebert also targets the Farm Workers Modernization Act. It’s a bill that would give foreign workers already in the U.S. agriculture sector the ability to request 5-year work visas for themselves and their families. Agriculture is an important industry in the district.

Tipton supported both of those measures saying that’s what was best for his constituents.

“What you focus on in legislation is what’s going to be important to your district,” he says.

scott tipton, r mDavid Zalubowski/AP
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., listens as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Tipton also co-sponsored a bill led by fellow Coloradan, Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse. The bill would provide additional coronavirus relief funds to local governments with populations less than 500,000. That describes all the local governments in the 3rd Congressional District, as well as wealthier cities like Boulder, which Tipton’s challenger likes to point out.

He has had primary challenges before and says it is part of the democratic process. He collected signatures to get on the primary ballot and got strong write-in support at the assembly. Overall, he’s proud of his record and his effectiveness, saying he’s stood up for people in the district.

“I think that we have been focused on the issues that are important to our district and important to our families in our district,” he says. “We’ve got a track record of being able to have success to be able to achieve that.”

That’s why he’s running for a sixth term, Tipton says.

He wants to move forward on legislation that ensures “rural Colorado isn’t left out or forgotten.” If re-elected, he’ll continue to focus on issues like forest management as a way to address wildfires, protecting water access, helping veterans, and ensuring access to economic resources as many people and businesses start recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re about job creation, we’re about making sure we have good trade agreements that are going on,” he says. “Empowering people with more of the resources they earn to keep those dollars in their pocket.”

Tipton and Boebert agree this primary season has been unlike any other, with campaigns stuck in the virtual realm.

As communities in the 3rd District begin to open up, both candidates hope in this final stretch, they can meet some primary voters face-to-face.