Election 2018Hot Sheet

Congressional candidate Diane Mitsch Bush defends socialist reading

Author: Conrad Swanson - September 7, 2018 - Updated: September 7, 2018

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Diane Mitsch Bush, Democratic contender faces off with U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. (Colorado Politics file photo)

A socialist for Congress from Colorado? Let those with an untarnished search history cast the first stone.

If you were to pluck a given journalist out of the bunch and examine their internet search history, you’d find some pretty odd stuff, guaranteed.

For example, when I was a crime reporter, my search history would have included potential causes of death for domestic rabbits and different recipes for concocting counterfeit laundry detergent, among other things. I was researching the topics I was writing about.  

Along those lines, you’d find that journalists subscribe to a wide, eclectic — I’ll call it a variety — of newsletters, publications and mailers. But does that mean they subscribe to the ideologies of each of those publications?

In years past, Diane Mitsch Bush, the Democratic candidate from Steamboat Springs vying to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez,  subscribed to ‘In These Times,’ a left-leaning magazine based in Chicago. She acknowledged that fact when Colorado Politics asked about her name on its donor list.

On its website, the magazine says it is “dedicated to advancing democracy and economic justice, informing movements for a more humane world, and providing an accessible forum for debate about the policies that shape our future.”

Here’s the catch. The magazine was founded in 1976 by James Weinstein, a historian and former member of the Communist Party, said Editor and Publisher Joel Bleifuss (though Weinstein left the party in “disgust” in the 1950s).

For the first 13 years of publication, the magazine — then a weekly paper — did indeed refer to itself as the “Independent Socialist Newspaper” on its masthead, Bleifuss said.

The Tipton camp says Mitsch Bush’s subscription is telling of her political leanings.

“Diane Mitsch Bush is a socialist who actively funded an anti-American magazine,” said Matt Connelly, his campaign spokesman. “Anyone who funds socialist propaganda … should be disqualified from public office.”

But Mitsch Bush, a former state representative, strongly disagrees.

“For the record, I am not a socialist, I’m a Democrat,” Mitsch Bush said. “I was raised in Minnesota as a DFL, that means Democratic, farmer, laborer. Meaning I believe urban and labor groups have more in common than what separates them.”

By subscribing to “In These Times,” Mitsch Bush said she was learning about the world.

“Their reporters go to communities … and they find out what local people are doing,” she said. “There is a focus on local groups and organizations that get together with each other to talk about issues and hammer out solutions.”

It’s all part of the process, Mitsch Bush said.

“If you want to create good policy that improves people’s lives, you have to listen to the people and then you have to put together stakeholder groups,” she said.

Bleifuss took exception with the Tipton campaign’s assessment as well, noting that the publication’s masthead was ultimately changed because people too often “conflated the socialism of Bernie Sanders … with the totalitarian communism of the Soviet Union.”

“Many readers rely on In These Times for its unique perspective on American politics,” he added.

In the Colorado House of Representatives, Mitsch Bush noted many of her bills had support from Republicans.

“I’ve been endorsed by groups that are widely divergent,” she said. “The best example is in 2015, I was named legislator of the year by the Colorado Livestock Organization, which is more conservative, and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, which is more progressive.”

The 3rd Congressional District encompasses almost all of the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo County.

Conrad Swanson

Conrad Swanson