Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: November 9, 1956, Espanola, NM

Home: Cortez, CO

Education: Fort Lewis Col., B.A. 1978.

Professional Career: Owner, CEO, Mesa Verde Pottery.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Anglican

Family: Married (Jean) , 2 children

The congressman from the 3rd District is Scott Tipton, a conservative Republican elected in 2010 who has been known to buck his party’s leadership and who also managed to attract unwanted questions about his ethics during his relatively short time in Congress.

Tipton was born in Española, N.M. His family moved to Cortez, Colo., three months after he was born. His father was a construction worker for a Denver-based company, but the family’s finances were often strained by the medical needs of Tipton’s brother, who was diabetic. “Until I was about 7 years old, we ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast,” Tipton said. “It wasn’t because we needed to lower our cholesterol.” Tipton’s mother and father were doting and attentive parents, “who never missed a parent-teacher conference,” he said. When Tipton enrolled in Fort Lewis College in Durango, he became the first member of his family to go beyond high school, an achievement he attributes to his stable home life.

After getting his degree, Tipton returned to his hometown to establish a production facility for Native American pottery and jewelry, employing childhood friends who belonged to the Ute and Navajo tribes. But his fledgling business was encumbered by onerous and redundant government paperwork, he says. “We spent hours filling out forms (asking) how many thousands of pounds of clays we went through each year,” an experience that made Tipton a critic of government intrusion into the affairs of small businesses.

In 2006, he mounted his first political campaign, challenging Democrat John Salazar, then a freshman. Salazar won handily, receiving 62% of the vote, but Tipton’s campaign increased his visibility. Two years later, the local Republican Party in nearby Montrose recruited him to run for the Colorado House, and he was soon on his way to Denver. As a Republican legislator, Tipton says he sometimes felt marginalized by the Democratic Party’s hegemony in the state following the 2008 election. He was the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee and worked on legislation that streamlined government paperwork through increased reliance on the Internet. He was also a sponsor of the bipartisan “Katie’s Law,” which requires collection of DNA from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony.

In 2010, Tipton decided to again challenge Salazar. In the GOP primary, retired Army lawyer Bob McConnell was the preferred candidate of tea party activists and Tipton’s main opponent. Some tea partiers viewed Tipton suspiciously as a member of the Republican establishment, but he refrained from criticizing McConnell. The race never grew overly negative and The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper dubbed Tipton’s win a “bloodless victory.”

In the fall campaign, Tipton portrayed Salazar as too deferential to the Democratic leadership, slamming the incumbent for his votes in favor of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill and his major health care overhaul. Of the 220 House supporters of the health care law, only 11 represented districts that were more Republican than Salazar’s in 2010. Salazar also was perceived as having close ties to the Obama administration because his younger brother, Ken Salazar, was his Interior secretary at the time. For his part, John Salazar suggested in his ads that Tipton would reduce Social Security retirement benefits, and he deemphasized his party label, calling himself “An Independent Voice for Rural Colorado.” The incumbent was also well-funded, raising more than $2 million compared with Tipton’s $1.2 million.

Although Salazar enjoyed decisive victories in two previous reelection bids, the district’s conservative voters were energized, and Tipton prevailed, 50% to 46%.

Early in his first term, Tipton voted for an unsuccessful attempt to repeal the health care law. Defying the House Republican leadership, he voted against a major spending resolution in 2011 because he favored steeper spending cuts. Tipton also joined other conservative freshmen in opposing House Speaker John Boehner’s deal with the White House to raise the nation’s debt limit that year. But Tipton hasn’t been an across-the-board fiscal hawk. The Denver Post pointed out that Tipton favored government funding for a local bicycle trail, a popular position in an environmentally-conscious district that includes Aspen. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, he supported funding to preserve groundwater in the San Luis Valley, which is also in his district.

Tipton was tripped up by some negative publicity about ethics in his first term. Politico reported that Tipton sent a letter apologizing to the House Ethics Committee after his daughter, who lobbied for a company named Broadnet, was dropping her father’s name in order to get access to members of Congress. The Denver Post later reported that Tipton’s office spent more than $7,700 for newsletters and a tele-town hall meeting to iConstituent and Constituent Services Inc., two businesses that do contract work with Broadnet, which is owned by Tipton’s nephew, Steve Patterson. Tipton defended the payments, saying they were not made to Patterson’s company directly.

Democrats targeted Tipton in 2012, putting up state Rep. Sal Pace to challenge him. Pace was derided by the National Republican Congressional Committee as one of liberal House Minority Leader “Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked puppets,” but he took some conservative positions, such as calling for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Pace attacked Tipton’s vote for Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial Medicare reform plan. “If you dare put an idea on the table you get demonized,” Tipton complained during an August candidates’ debate. Tipton slightly outspent Pace, $2.2 million to $1.9 million, and won, 53%-41%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

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CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 218
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Durango, CO 81301

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Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

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13552 County Road 26
Cortez, CO 81321-1321

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

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Staff

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Abortion

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Agriculture

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Melissa Graeff
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Budget

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Education

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Christian Jorgenson
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Environment

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Melissa Graeff
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Christian Jorgenson
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Christian Jorgenson
Legislative Assistant

Health

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Immigration

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Intelligence

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Internet

Joshua Green
Chief of Staff

Judiciary

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Melissa Graeff
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Christian Jorgenson
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Military

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Native Americans

Christian Jorgenson
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Christian Jorgenson
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Social Security

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Tax

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Melissa Graeff
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Melissa Graeff
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Veterans

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Welfare

Dustin Sherer
Legislative Director

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Scott Tipton
Votes: 159,793
Percent: 58.07%
Abel Tapia
Votes: 98,172
Percent: 35.68%
2012 GENERAL
Scott Tipton
Votes: 185,291
Percent: 53.36%
Sal Pace
Votes: 142,920
Percent: 41.07%
2012 PRIMARY
Scott Tipton
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Scott Tipton
Votes: 129,257
Percent: 50.1%
John Salazar
Votes: 118,048
Percent: 45.76%
2010 PRIMARY
Scott Tipton
Votes: 39,346
Percent: 55.76%
Bob McConnell
Votes: 31,214
Percent: 44.24%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (50%)

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