DENVER (AP) – Congressional candidate Rep. Sal Pace says he is stepping down as Colorado House Democratic leader to focus on his race against incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton.

Pace made the announcement Tuesday. He will still serve the remainder of his term next year in the Legislature.

The Pueblo representative is challenging Tipton in the sprawling 3rd Congressional District that covers southern Colorado and the Western Slope. The district is among the Colorado’s most competitive.

Pace was elected to the state House in 2008. Before that he was the district director of former 3rd District Rep. John Salazar. In the Legislature Pace has worked on land, water and renewable energy issues affecting his district.

Democrats will elect a new House leader on Friday.

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