Congressional candidates square off in Craig |

Congressional candidates square off in Craig

Tipton and McConnell vying for primary, Gilman discusses Libertarian views

Brian Smith
State Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, right, hands the microphone to Steamboat Springs Republican Bob McConnell, both running for Colorado's Third Congressional District, during the Craig Daily Press/KRAI Candidate Forum on Tuesday at the Centennial Mall. Shawn McHugh

Two Republican candidates for Third Congressional District took turns sharing platforms on a variety of state and federal issues Tuesday.

State Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Steamboat Springs Republican Bob McConnell, opponents in the Aug. 10 Republican primary, appeared at the Craig Daily Press/KRAI candidate forum.

They are vying for a chance to face incumbent Democrat Rep. John Salazar in November's general election.

Tipton said the primary election is a "turning point" for Americans.

"What are our children and our grandchildren … going to inherit?" he said. "I was raised in a country where the sky was the limit. If you worked hard and we allowed our free enterprise system to flourish, you could become anything you wanted."

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McConnell, who is running for office for the first time, said he is in the race because the country is in "crisis."

"That is why I am in this race," he said. "I have never run for office, but I believe this crisis has been caused by career politicians. It is not a time to send politicians to Washington — it is a time to send leaders."

McConnell and Tipton were given an opportunity to make opening and closing statements, as well as answer questions about what they would do if elected into office.

Both candidates were asked what Congressional committees they would seek appointment to if elected.

Tipton said he wants to serve on the agriculture and energy committees.

"The West Slope of Colorado can be the point of the spear in leading this nation to energy independence," he said.

Tipton also said he was a proponent of nuclear power, coal, oil and gas.

McConnell said he would seek appointment to the rules, energy, and Armed Services committees.

The rules committee, McConnell said, can determine if Congress can pass single-issue bills.

"That is one of the disasters we have right now in Congress is that every bill is tacked on with layer after layer of earmark spending," he said.

During closing statements, Tipton said that because Salazar has "voted with Nancy Pelosi 97.3 percent of the time, he can't come here and tell us that he is one of us anymore."

"We need to send someone to Washington, D.C. who has balanced a budget, who has created private sector jobs," he said. "I'm a private sector guy. That is exactly what Washington needs now."

McConnell said he is "of the people, not the party," during closing statements.

"I bring the energy and determination that we are one nation, under God and that we are governed by a Constitution, and when we look to those two values, we will turn this crisis around," he said.

Libertarian Gilman speaks to forum

Before the forum segment with McConnell and Tipton, Libertarian candidate Gregory Gilman, who is also running for Third Congressional District, addressed the crowd in a five-minute speech.

Gilman, a Custer County resident, said he has spent his own money traveling across the 29 counties of the Third Congressional District.

"Even though I am on the November ballot, I am not a politician," he said. "I am just a normal guy, born and raised here in Colorado, who believes in the Constitution, the limits it places on the federal government and the sovereignty of the American people."

Gilman said he would address federal spending, debt, and "mounting liabilities."

"It is going to be passed on to future generations and I just think that is wrong," he said of the federal deficit. "So, I want to do whatever I can to help this country pay off its debts, balance the budget and make this government as honest and efficient as any entity in the world."

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