Schwartz eyed for congressional race

by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Snowmass Village resident and state Sen. Gail Schwartz is being recruited to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the 2014 election, a national publication is reporting.

Schwartz confirmed Thursday she has “been eyed” to run against the two-term Republican in the mid-term election, which coincides with her being term-limited out of the state Senate. Schwartz, a former University of Colorado regent, won election to the Senate in 2006, unseating San Luis Valley Republican Lou Entz. She won a narrow reelection in 2010.

The National Journal, in an article posted Wednesday, said Schwartz and current Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia are considering running against Tipton.

Schwartz told the Aspen Daily News she has “not expressed any commitments or interest” about running, but that “people are looking at all sorts” of options for recruiting congressional candidates right now.  

Schwartz did leave the door open to the race, considering she will be forced to step down after eight years in the state Capitol when her current term ends after 2014.

“I certainly want to continue to be able to serve,” she said. “I don’t know in what capacity, and I have not made any commitments.”

The National Journal noted that Schwartz raised $235,000 in her 2010 race against local Republican Bob Rankin.

“Multiple state Democrats hailed her as a potentially strong fundraiser,” the journal reported.

Pitkin County Democratic Party Chair Blanca O’Leary said she is pleased to see Schwartz’s name being floated for federal office.

“I’ve been trying to get her to run before,” O’Leary said, calling Schwartz “well respected” and a hard worker.

The 3rd Congressional District, currently held by Tipton, covers most of the Western Slope, making it one of the larger districts in the nation.

Schwartz’s current Senate District 5 is nearly as vast as the 3rd Congressional District, O’Leary noted, and when Schwartz was a regent, she represented an area equivalent to the congressional district.

“She knows the district well and has traveled the district far and wide,” O’Leary said.