DENVER A poll released Wednesday showed Democratic challenger Sal Pace trailing incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.
Public Policy Polling conducted the survey during the past week in battleground districts where Republican incumbents are vulnerable. Overall, the poll showed Democrats hold the upper hand, but voters in the 3rd currently favor Tipton (46 percent) over Pace (39 percent).
The poll forecasts that Pace, a state representative from Pueblo, will gain ground as his name recognition grows. The poll showed Tipton’s approval rating to be 36 percent with 40 percent of voters giving him low marks.
Collectively in the 3rd, 37 percent of voters polled have a favorable opinion of Republicans in the U.S. House, while 49 percent have an unfavorable opinion of them.
Even though he trails in the poll, Pace said he was pleased by the numbers and is confident he will improve as the race progresses.
“People clearly want a change,” he said. “They are frustrated with Congress and its rigid ideology. Outside of Pueblo, I’m not a known commodity. It’s going to take a combination of traveling the district, introducing myself to people — getting my name and face out there.”
An infusion of funds and other resources that’s likely to follow the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s announcement that the 3rd Congressional District is a priority should help Pace to do that.
Pace was excused from the Colorado House on Tuesday and Wednesday to travel to Washington. He attended President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as a guest of U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver.
Pace criticized Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma for leaving the Legislature to visit the nation’s capital when he was a candidate two years ago, but Pace said Gardner traveled during the legislative session’s peak, while he slipped out on days with relatively light calendars.
“It’s sort of the unfortunate reality of running for Congress,” Pace said. “You have to do a lot of traveling and campaigning. We saw it two years ago with Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton. I plan to miss as few days as possible. I’ll try to schedule them at times with the least impact.”
Pace said the time commitment associated with campaigning influenced his decision to step down as House minority leader.
“The reality is I want to be the first congressman from Pueblo and Southeastern Colorado in over 30 years,” he said.
Asked about Pace skipping two days in the General Assembly to be in Washington and what the poll means for Tipton’s chances of re-election, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato simply dismissed it as “bogus.”
“I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that a Democrat poll paid for by Democrats would show such a result,” he said. “This is a complete joke. The Democrats should be embarrassed.”
“Sal Pace has obviously forgotten about the commitment he made to the people of Colorado and is busy campaigning for his next job in politics on the Colorado taxpayers’ dime,” Tipton said.
The House Majority PAC, which backs Democratic candidates, paid for the poll.
Public Policy Polling surveyed 569 registered voters in the 3rd Congressional District. The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.