Democratic congressional candidate and political newcomer James Iacino won top line on Colorado's June primary ballot over former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush in the virtual 3rd Congressional District assembly that concluded Tuesday night.
The winner of the June 30 primary will face five-term Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton or his primary challenger, Shooters Grill owner Lauren Boebert.
Iacino, the former CEO of the family-owned Seattle Fish Co., secured the designation with 49.4% of the delegate vote to Mitsch Bush's 47.5%, a difference of seven votes.
Activist Root Rutledge fell short of the 30% needed to qualify for the ballot with just 3% of the vote, which was conducted by electronic balloting over three days to comply with limits on gatherings imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I want to express my deepest thanks to the delegates of CD3. Yesterday’s vote shows that we are building the support needed to beat Scott Tipton this November and bring a real voice back to western and southern Colorado,” Iacino said in a statement.
“We are in a time of crisis and need a leader who will stand for us and not partisan interests. I look forward to continuing to show CD3 voters my commitment to serving them and to earn their vote in the primary this June.”
The sprawling district, one of the largest geographically in the country, covers most of the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo County. It leans Republican in recent years but has sent members of both parties to Congress over the decades.
Mitsch Bush, who ran unsuccessfully against Tipton in 2018, said she expects the primary will be a "competitive and exciting race."
"We are incredibly proud of the support we have gotten from all over our congressional district," she said in a statement. "I look forward to a robust discussion of real solutions to the problems facing the people of CD3.”
The Republicans' 3rd CD assembly is scheduled for Friday and will also take place remotely. Tipton learned last week that he has already qualified for the primary ballot by petition.
Both Democrats have been holding virtual events with voters since the middle of March. Sign up to participate in Iacino's weekly "Java with James" sessions, held on Wednesdays, here. Mitsch Bush said she'll announce online events later this week.