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Boebert still faces fight after district switch

Firebrand enters crowded primary for open seat on other side of Colorado

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert will run for reelection next year in a different district.
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert will run for reelection next year in a different district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican who was facing the same well-funded Democratic opponent that she barely beat in 2022, is switching districts, a move that could preserve her own political future while undermining Democrats’ chances of capturing her current seat.

In a video posted on Facebook Wednesday night, Boebert, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress, said she’ll enter a competitive primary for an open seat in eastern Colorado’s 4th District instead of seeking a third term in the more competitive 3rd District, which is centered hundreds of miles away on Colorado’s Western Slope. Rep. Ken Buck, the 4th District incumbent, said in November he will retire after this term and harshly criticized fellow Republicans for “lying to America” about the 2020 election..

Boebert suggested the switch will help the GOP retain her current seat while also signifying a new beginning for her following a divorce and an embarrassing incident when she and a date were asked to leave a Denver theater.

“Since the first day I ran for public office, I promised I would do whatever it takes to stop the socialists and communists from taking over our country,’’ Boebert said in the video. “That means staying in the fight. 

“But it also means not allowing Hollywood elites and progressive money groups to buy the 3rd District, a seat that they have no business owning,’’ she said. “I will not allow dark money that is directed at destroying me personally to steal this seat. It’s not fair to the 3rd District and the conservatives there who have fought so hard for our victories.”

Boebert was facing a potential rematch with Democrat Adam Frisch, a former member of the Aspen city council who lost to Boebert by 546 votes in 2022. Frisch’s aggressive use of social media and email solicitation to attract national support to unseat Boebert gave him the third-highest fundraising total of all House candidates this cycle, $7.8 million, behind only former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. Frisch had $4.3 million in his account on Sept. 30, the most of any House challenger, compared to Boebert’s $1.4 million. 

Boebert was also facing a primary challenge from fellow Republican Jeff Hurd, an attorney from Grand Junction and a mainstream Republican who had secured endorsements from several top GOP officials, including former Gov. Bill Owens. Frisch, too, faces a primary against Grand Junction’s Democratic mayor, Anna Stout.

The decision to switch districts “says a lot about Boebert’s unique weakness as a candidate that she’s abandoning her R+6 district to run in a crowded primary on the other side of the state rather than face a rematch with Adam Frisch — even with Trump at the top of the ticket,’’ Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst with Inside Elections, tweeted.

The Inside Elections Baseline metric, which calculates the share of the vote a party’s candidate would get based on prior statewide elections, showed Republicans hold a 23-point advantage in Colorado’s 4th District, compared with a 6.2 point edge in the 3rd District.

Dave Wasserman, an analyst with the Cook Political Report, said on X Boebert’s switch was “good news for Republicans’ chances of holding onto #CO03” and the site was changing its rating on the race from Toss-up to Lean Republican.

Boebert has been one of the most visible and controversial members of the House GOP conference since she won an upset primary over five-term incumbent Republican Scott Tipton in 2020. A newcomer to elective politics, she quickly positioned herself as a disruptor on Capitol Hill, heckling President Biden during his 2021 State of the Union address and tangling with fellow GOP firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia on the House floor.

Earlier this year, she was embroiled in an embarrassing incident in a Denver theater that was captured on surveillance video. She and her date were escorted from the theater for vaping. The video also captured the couple apparently groping one another. Boebert subsequently embarked on an apology tour and tried to focus on legislative business, but the incident appeared to have cost her significant political capital.

In her video message announcing her decision to switch districts, Boebert said the move signifies “a fresh start following a pretty difficult year for me and my family,” which included a divorce from her husband.

“I have made my own personal mistakes and have owned up and apologized for them,” she said. “It’s tested my faith, my strength and my abilities both as a mom and a congresswoman. It’s been humbling and challenging but it’s also given me perspective.”

In the 4th District, Boebert will join a competitive field of GOP candidates vying to replace Buck, including 2022 Senate candidate and radio host Deborah Flora, Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg, former state Sen. Ted Harvey, state Rep. Richard Holtorf, and Weld County Councilor Trent Leisy, according to Inside Elections. Holtorf and Leisy were running before Buck’s surprise announcement in November.  Inside Elections rates the race as Solid Republican.

Leisy blasted Boebert on X, saying her decision to ditch her current district would give the Democrats control of the House. “Lauren should be a fighter and keep her district red!,’’ he said. “In Congress, I would NEVER vote to expand FISA and am running in a district that I actually live in.”

Holtorf also criticized Boebert’s strategy, saying “seat shopping isn’t something the voters look kindly upon. If you can’t win in your home, you can’t win here.” 

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