PUEBLO, Colo. - Congressman Scott Tipton faced off against his District-3 challenger Gail Schwartz in a debate hosted by CSU-Pueblo Thursday night.
The race will be one to watch on election night, with plenty at stake for both parties.
The 3rd Congressional District includes Pueblo, but also spreads across Southern Colorado before extending up the Western Slope to include Grand Junction.
Three-term incumbent Scott Tipton (R) is facing a challenge from former state senator Gail Schwartz (D).
Earlier this year, Republicans didn't think they needed to defend Tipton’s seat, but now, Tipton is fighting to keep his job while Democrats eye the valuable congressional seat.
Voters came out to hear the two candidates engage in their second and final debate.
Amongst the topics for discussion, ad claims by Schwartz that say Tipton wants to sell off and privatize public lands.
It was a claim that Tipton responded to forcefully during the debate, telling Schwartz, “You have not read this legislation, or maybe worse you can't comprehend what it's actually saying”
Tipton went on to reassure supporters, “[Privatization of public lands] is not going to be an issue that we need to be arguing about. I've always argued for public lands to be accessible for our people to make sure we have access to them, and will continue to do so”
Schwartz did not back down, saying Tipton's record on public land use is less than stellar.
“Vote after vote, bill after bill, slashing federal budgets to their knees; I think that is the most egregious,” scolded Schwartz, “We have a 35-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry in Colorado, and 350,000 jobs that rely on our public lands”
Other topics included energy and a discussion on Obamacare.
Schwartz criticized Tipton for voting more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Tipton said Obamacare has been a great burden for Southern Colorado families.
Schwartz says thousands of Colorado families are helped by the legislation, but she did concede the program needs improvement.
She pledged to go to Washington DC and make changes that would better the President's signature law.
Another sign that the Schwartz campaign has the GOP worried; She has out-raised Tipton in the fundraising arena. Now, several Republican Super PACS are pouring about one million dollars into the CD-3 house race to help Tipton hold on to his seat.