Rep. Lauren Boebert wins Colorado Republican primary after switching districts

Boebert beat a group of homegrown primary candidates who had far less name recognition and generally less combative political styles.

Lauren Boebert
AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won Tuesday's Republican primary in a U.S. House race that she jumped into last year, surviving a scandal over a video of her at a Denver theater and accusations of carpetbagging after fleeing what could have been a tough reelection bid in her current district.

Boebert’s resounding win over four other candidates in the new district across the state from where she lived before showcased her political cachet among Republicans and positions her for a likely easy win in the November general election. It was also a victory for her far-right flank of the House GOP that takes no prisoners, makes no concessions and has caused a rift in the party.



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Taking the stage at her election night victory party, Boebert wore a pair of reflective gold sneakers sold by Former President Donald Trump and a white “Make America Great Again” hat with his signature across the bill.

“America will rise again, and I am so excited that you all are here to be a part of it with me,” Boebert said to applause.

Boebert responded to questions about her switch to the 4th District by saying, “While the crops may be slightly different here in CD4, the values are not.”

She promised to fight for policies including shutting down the southern border and also signaled that she intends to continue her combative style.

“A lot of folks criticize my approach on things,” Boebert said, “but I learned very early on in Washington, D.C., that nothing happens without force.”

In two other closely watched Republican contests, Attorney Jeff Hurd won the primary for the 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Boebert, and political consultant and talk radio host Jeff Crank defeated Colorado GOP Chairman Dave Williams in the 5th District.

Boebert built national hard-line conservative stardom that likely made it easier for her to weather the scandals of the last year, which included the video of her vaping and causing a disturbance at a musical production of “Beetlejuice.”

While the theater incident and district jump rattled some Republicans, Gilbert Kendzior, 68, shrugged them off, saying, “Who’s perfect?”

Kendzior said he voted for Boebert because she shakes things up. “It’s gotten too staid. Same promises, nothing happens,” he said. “We need to get rid of the old farts.”

On Tuesday she beat a group of more traditional, homegrown primary candidates who had far less name recognition and generally less combative political styles: former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg; current state Reps. Mike Lynch and Richard Holtorf; and parental rights advocate Deborah Flora.

Sonnenberg congratulated Boebert and pledged to support her, saying, “I look forward to helping her win this seat in November and then being a resource to her on rural issues in this district.”

The 4th District, which sweeps across a wide expanse of ranches, ghost towns and conservative parts of the Denver metro area that make up much of the plains of eastern Colorado, overwhelmingly went for Trump in the 2020 election.

The seat opened up after former Republican Rep. Ken Buck resigned, citing the divisiveness of today's politics and his party's devotion to Trump. In a special election Tuesday to fill the remaining months of Buck’s term, Republican Greg Lopez, a former mayor of the city of Parker, beat a Democrat and third-party candidates.

In the 5th District, which is home to the city of Colorado Springs, Crank bested Williams after the latter faced condemnation from fellow Republicans over his leadership including the use of party resources to boost his own campaign.

Williams, a former state representative, has tried to realign the state GOP with the far-right flank of the national party. In recent GOP communications, he called people celebrating Gay Pride Month “godless groomers” and urged people to burn pride flags.

Crank is a more traditional Republican, less inclined toward fiery invective and the party’s hard-right wing.

Williams was already in hot water before the emails. A complaint against him with the Federal Elections Commission alleges that he used the state party email list to announce his campaign for Congress and spent party money on mailers that included an attack on Crank.

The race is to fill the seat of Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who did not seek reelection. As in the 4th District, the winner of the Republican-friendly 5th District will be favored in the general election.

Another GOP House race watched closely on the national level was the 8th District, newly minted after redistricting in 2021 and hotly contested with voters roughly split between the two major parties.

Republican state Rep. Gabe Evans, a former police officer, defeated former state Rep. Janak Joshi, a retired physician, in the race to challenge Democratic incumbent Yadira Caraveo. Caraveo won the 8th District, which stretches north of Denver, by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2022.

Evans will likely benefit from a windfall of support from the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is intent on defending the party's thin House majority.

And farther to the west, among the Rocky Mountains and high desert mesas, Hurd won the GOP primary for the 3rd District, home to Boebert's current seat.

Hurd, a softer-spoken and less hard-line conservative, will face Democrat Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert by only 546 votes in 2022. That narrow margin was largely attributed to Boebert’s divisiveness among voters, and Hurd is considered to have the advantage in the general election in the Republican-leaning district.

Still, Frisch’s near victory in 2022, which caught national attention and showed donors he had a path to flip the seat, has helped him raise over $13 million. It’s one of the biggest House campaign chests in the nation and far overshadows Hurd’s $1 million.

In the primary, Hurd defeated former Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks; Stephen Varela, a former Democrat who switched parties; businessman Lew Webb; and financial adviser Russ Andrews.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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