In a bitter, no-holds-barred campaign season, Colorado's 3rd Congressional District provides no relief. The race pits a climate change crusader against the interests of Colorado mining towns and the rural way of life.
Growing evidence suggests former State Sen. Gail Schwartz has hurt low-income and rural Coloradans. She hopes a negative campaign against U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton will fool them into sending her to Congress.
Schwartz hails from Snowmass Village, a community next to Aspen known for celebrities and glitz, and recently moved to upscale Crested Butte. Nothing is wrong with that, but she seems incapable of understanding the challenges of farmers, miners and other working-class constituents who make up most of the Third Congressional District. She legislated against their best interests.
Meanwhile, Tipton has spent three terms fighting for Colorado jobs, public lands, small businesses, farmers, and energy.
Throughout Tipton's 3rd Congressional district, which includes Pueblo and most of the Western Slope, Coloradans struggle with soaring utility bills, mining layoffs and dwindling tax revenues for transportation, public safety and schools.
Much of the hardship relates to aggressive environmental mandates championed by Schwartz, who seems more concerned about climate change than anything else.
Schwartz teamed up in 2013 with then-State Senate President John Morse and then-Sen. Angela Giron, who became the first and only legislators in history to be recalled by Colorado voters. Together they imposed Senate Bill 252, a clean energy mandate written to reduce coal-generated electricity in Pueblo and rural Colorado.
The law forces rural electrics to produce 25 percent of electricity with renewables by 2020. It imposed a 30 percent mandate on Black Hills Energy, which serves Pueblo.
The result has been personal economic devastation throughout much of the district.
Coal production in Delta County has been halved, leaving families without income.
As reported in this space, the law has imposed heart-wrenching hardships in Pueblo. Black Hills has passed mandate costs along to consumers with electric rates that rank among the highest in the country.
Rate hikes are no great burden in the resorts Schwartz calls home. At least 10 billionaires own vacation homes in Snowmass and few, if any, climb into mines for a living. Global warming is a bigger concern than making ends meet.
In Tipton's hometown of Cortez, median household incomes are $32,527 below the rest of the state. As reported in this space, growing numbers of Pueblo residents cannot afford food after paying for mandates.
Tipton explained some of the ways Schwartz has "devastated" communities in a campaign video the Denver Post's news department fact-checked.
"The claims in the ad are largely true but probably overstate the impact of Schwartz's 2013 legislation."
We believe the congressman may have understated the hardships. He did not mention, for example, the soaring electric rates.
As explained in an endorsement by the Denver Post, Tipton has been a "strong" representative of western Colorado and Pueblo. He reached across party lines to protect 100,000 acres in the Hermosa Creek watershed. He helped convince President Barack Obama to proclaim Chimney Rock as a national monument. He has defended small businesses, working-class families and the jobs they need to survive.
We cannot afford a cocooned climate change crusader in Congress, raising costs and killing jobs for hard-working Coloradans. Re-elect Scott Tipton to protect businesses, families and jobs.
the gazette editorial board