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Democrats Recruiting Tipton Challengers

Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia is considering running for the House.(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

photo of Scott Bland
March 27, 2013

At least two Democrats are considering running against Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., next year: state Sen. Gail Schwartz and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. Multiple state Democrats confirmed Schwartz and Garcia are being recruited to run in the state's 3rd Congressional District.

Schwartz, a two-term senator and the majority whip in Colorado's upper legislative chamber, cannot run for her seat again in 2014 due to term limits. Multiple state Democrats hailed her as a potentially strong fundraiser. Schwartz raised just over $235,000 for a razor-thin reelection victory in 2010, and she has been in touch with EMILY's List, the Democratic women’s group renowned for directing donations from its large member list to female candidates.

"We think she would make a strong candidate," EMILY's List spokeswoman Marcy Stech said when asked about Schwartz.

Garcia has never run for elected office in his own right -- Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper selected Garcia as a running mate in 2010 -- but the motorcycle-riding LG's biography and experience have some fellow Democrats excited about his prospects. Garcia was a community college president and then the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo, in one of the district's population centers, before Hickenlooper tapped him to become the state's first Hispanic lieutenant governor. (The 3rd District is almost one-quarter Hispanic.) Garcia also serves as the state's director of higher education in Hickenlooper's administration.

Neither Schwartz nor Garcia returned calls to their offices requesting comment.

Tipton won a comfortable 53-percent victory over Democratic former state Rep. Sal Pace in 2012, as Mitt Romney carried the district by a slightly narrower margin. The 3rd District, covering most of Colorado's Western Slope, got slightly more Democratic-friendly after redistricting in 2011, and Democrats held the old version of the seat from 2005, until Tipton beat then-Rep. John Salazar in 2010.

Tipton's seat isn't at the top of House Democrats' wish list in 2014, but it falls in a range of districts (narrow Romney seats) where Democrats have to challenge to eventually win back the House majority. Romney carried 227 out of 435 congressional districts in 2012, even as President Obama and House Democrats won popular-vote majorities.

National Democrats hoped to contend in the 3rd District last year and touted a poll showing Tipton with low support in early October, but Tipton improved on his 50-percent showing over Salazar from 2010.

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