This week marked a new beginning in the campaign for Colorado's Third Congressional District.
On Wednesday, Congressman Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and challenger Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, participated in their first public debate at Adams State University in Alamosa.
The event was hosted by the university’s veterans club.
Tisha Casida, an Independent candidate, and others vying for the office were not invited.
Tipton and Pace addressed issues ranging from small business development to Environmental Protection Agency regulations during the two-hour debate.
The candidates also poked at each other’s political methodologies.
Tipton called out Pace for having no position on important issues, while Pace criticized the Congressman for being too partisan.
“People are tired of inaction,” Pace said in a news release. “They are tired of nothing getting done even though people agree on so much.
“That’s the biggest contrast I wanted to make last night. I’m more interested in getting things done instead of continuing the rigid ideology and gridlock.”
Pace highlighted one issue in particular he and Tipton agree about — making small business incentives and workforce training a priority.
When asked by Pace why he had not worked harder with others in Congress to accomplish those goals, Tipton blamed Senate Democrats, according to the Pace for Colorado release.
“This just sounds like more of what we have in Washington, one side bashing the other, one part of Capitol Hill bashing the other,” Pace said. “Let’s get over that.”
Michael Fortney, Tipton’s campaign manager, viewed the debate differently.
He said even after two hours of discussion Third Congressional District voters still don’t know where Pace stands on issues.
"Congressman Tipton took the opportunity to talk with voters about legislation that he has passed through Congress and real substantive ideas to fix our ailing economy," Fortney said in a news release. "Pace avoided giving any detailed positions on the tough issues.
“At some point, when you are avoiding question after question, talk of ‘bipartisanship’ becomes nothing more than politics as usual. Voters deserve to know where Pace stands on important issues. Saying you are ‘bipartisan’ is not a position.”
Tipton countered the accusation he had not championed small business legislation hard enough in Washington by asking Pace to defend his record of raising taxes on small businesses.
Pace stated that he is “proud of his record and stands by it,” according to the Tipton for Congress release.
"Pace’s record on small business issues is terrible," Fortney said. "Sal Pace has made a career in the Colorado legislature raising taxes on family farms, restaurants, online and tech businesses and all of Colorado’s job creators.
“If he continues to claim he is pro-business, he needs to explain, specifically, why he has voted time and again to raise taxes on Colorado businesses.”
Tipton and Pace are scheduled to debate each other again Sept. 8 at Club 20 in Grand Junction.
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