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DENVER (AP) State Rep. Scott Tipton is getting into the race in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District and turning it into a referendum on President Barack Obama's policies.

Tipton said Wednesday he will be filing paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission later this week to challenge Democrat John Salazar for the Western Slope district. Republicans Martin Beeson and Bob McConnell are also running for the seat.

Tipton challenged Salazar three years ago but lost 146,488 to 86,930.

Tipton said that in nine months, the national deficit has tripled, the stimulus bills have grown government and Washington is forcing health care on voters.

Tipton says Salazar's support for some of those initiatives are out of step with people in his district. He said the race is about Salazar's voting record and Obama's agenda.

"John Salazar in supporting these actions is standing up for big government, but not the people of the Third Congressional District of Colorado," Tipton said.

Salazar's spokesman, Eric Wortman, said Salazar was observing Veteran's Day in Aspen and had no comment.

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"He doesn't want to play politics today. This is an important day to him," Wortman said.

Salazar is considered one of the "blue dog" Democrats who are more conservative than most of the members of their caucus. He voted for the health care bill even though conservatives warned blue dogs to "prepare to color your district red next year" if they supported it.

Political consultant Floyd Ciruli said Tipton is trying to turn the race into another referendum on Obama after Republicans achieved success in this year's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia by attacking Democrats who supported Obama's agenda.

"That's called nationalizing a local election. The difficulty is, when you have a candidate like Salazar on the conservative end of the spectrum, it's hard to turn him into a tool of the administration. Salazar can argue that there are a lot of things Obama wanted that he didn't vote for," Ciruli said.

Tipton, who lives in Cortez, has a bachelor's degree in political science from Fort Lewis College.

He is founder and owner of Mesa Verde Pottery near the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park.

Salazar, the brother of Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., has represented western and southern Colorado in Congress since 2004. The potato farmer and rancher from Manassa in the San Luis Valley won re-election to a third term in 2008.


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