Politics & Policy

Endorsement Roundup: Salazar/Tipton (CO-3) and Markey/Gardner (CO-4)

CO-3–A mixed bag as the Democratic incumbent drew praise from two papers, while the third went with the Republican challenger:

Rep. John Salazar earned the backing of the Pueblo Chieftain, one of the two largest papers in the sprawling 3rd Congressional District:

Rep. Salazar did vote for ObamaCare but has said he’s vowed to amend it with tort reform. He has broken with his party on several key issues, opposing the “cap-and-tax” energy bill and the bank bailout. He has called for a year-long extension of the Bush tax rates for all income groups. And he’s been endorsed by the National Rifle Association and rated a centrist by the National Journal.

Salazar also picked up the support of the Durango Herald:

There is no way to perfectly reflect all those perspectives, and Salazar does not. Instead, he keeps to the moderate end of his party and focuses on his district.

The result is a lot of unhappy ideologues – and a lot of people who enjoy seeing good things get done and bad things opposed.

Salazar is a Democrat endorsed by the National Rifle Association. He also belongs to the fiscally conservative “Blue Dog” coalition, but he voted for the stimulus package and health-care reform.

That is not inconsistent. Those all matter to his district.

The health-care bill, flawed though it is, served to dynamite a decades-old logjam, a precondition to moving forward. And while it is frequently said the stimulus did not work, it was never considered an economic cure-all. Its point was to keep us from repeating the Great Depression, and in that, it appears to have worked.

The other big paper in CO-3–the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel–located much closer to his own base of support in his state house district, gave the nod to Republican Scott Tipton, while heaping scorn on Salazar:

We can’t guarantee that Scott Tipton will be a more effective congressman than John Salazar, but it’s hard to imagine him being less so. Complaints of his ineffectiveness come from Republicans, of course, but also from Democrats in private conversations. Here are a few examples of his lack of leadership or ineffectiveness: […]

* When the important health care legislation was being debated in Congress, Salazar frustrated many people, including Democrats, by refusing to take a position until just before the House vote.

* Salazar also declined to publicly meet with constituents on this critical issue, although he does take credit for bringing the president to Grand Junction last year to discuss health care.

Salazar likes to point to the many examples of federal money he has brought home to his district. We have questioned his penchant for earmarks in the past. It is particularly misplaced, given the current economy. Tipton says he will fight to end earmarks.

Finally, Salazar’s attack ads against Tipton are among the most atrocious and misleading in a campaign year filled with bad ads.

CO-4–The Democratic incumbent, Rep. Betsy Markey, received the nod from the Fort Collins Coloradoan in the battleground of Larimer county. Cory Gardner, on the other hand, garnered three key endorsements in Boulder, Larimer, and Weld counties–the three largest and most pivotal counties in the 4th Congressional District–and also from the Pueblo Chieftain. While not in CO-4, the Chieftain is the largest paper in the southeastern portion of the state, where much of the substantially rural 4th CD resides (see CO-3 map above):

The Loveland Reporter-Herald tipped for Gardner:

Many people in the 4th District traditionally have been independent to conservative in their approach to national issues. This would tend to support the candidacy of Gardner, who is more likely to resist vast federal spending that Markey has been involved in. While the district has a number of major employers, many of which are in the high-tech or service industries, the bread and butter of the district, in addition to agriculture, is the small shops and businesses, sole proprietorships and professional offices that line the streets of Northern Colorado and the eastern plains.

The Longmont Times-Call also chose Gardner in the co-sponsored editorial.

The Greeley Tribune thinks Gardner will do a better job and be more representative of the district:

Markey was a bit of a political newcomer when she won the seat two years ago, but Gardner has five years of experience in the Colorado Legislature representing House District 65. We think that gives him an advantage despite the common criticism of political insiders. It’s difficult for any newcomer in the 435-member U.S. House to wield much power. We think Gardner’s political experience and his statesman-like qualities will make him more successful in the House pushing forward his agenda for the 4th Congressional District.

It’s not often that we’ve been able to say we think both major-party candidates in the 4th would do a good job. But we think Gardner has a slight edge because his views more closely represent the majority of the voters who live in the 4th Congressional District east of Interstate 25.

The Pueblo Chieftain agrees that Gardner is a better fit and a “rising star”:

The traditionally Republican district has watched these past two years as Rep. Markey voted for most of President Barack Obama’s liberal agenda — the $1 trillion-plus health care takeover, stimulus spending, the failed “cap and tax” energy bill and more. […]

Rep. Gardner is committed to represent rural water interests, the ranchers against Pinon Canyon Military Maneuver site expansion and conservative tax and budget policies. In fact, he has been described as a responsible conservative Republican in the mold of former U.S. Sen. and 4th District Rep. Hank Brown.

Widely regarded as a rising star in politics, Rep. Gardner is the ideal choice in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan went against the predominant grain, giving the slight edge to the incumbent–with certain strings attached:

After weighing the attributes each candidate brings to the table, the Coloradoan editorial board narrowly endorses Markey in this race.

As an incumbent, Markey has proved to be, for the most part, well reasoned in her decisions. Her motivation for voting for the health-care plan, including costs, benefits and long-term impact, were well thought out, although she stated her vote very late in the process. She voted against congressional raises. She advocates for a government pay-as-you-go budgeting law. However, we strongly disagree with her co-sponsorship of the Employee Free Choice Act, which essentially eliminates secret ballots for workers voting on forming unions.

We’d like to see her take a more centrist leadership role (she voted with Democrats 94 percent of the time). She touched on this opportunity when she participated in an effort to curb credit card companies from exploiting their positions prior to reforms taking place. Markey should spend more time in that leadership role than nervously gauging what will get her re-elected.

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