FORT LUPTON, Colo. (AP) — Rep. Lauren Boebert will argue her case Thursday in the first Republican primary debate for the district she switched to last month, facing off against opponents who have already attacked her with accusations of being a “carpetbagger.”
The congresswoman is running in the 4th Congressional District, which spans Colorado’s eastern plains, over fears she could have lost reelection for the seat she currently holds on the state’s western slope. Colorado’s congressional representatives do not have to live in the district they represent, only the state, though Boebert has said she will move to the area.
With control of the House hanging in the balance, Republicans and Democrats are wrestling fiercely over every close race. That includes the 3rd District, which was considered solidly GOP−leaning but became seen as a toss−up for this year after Boebert won there by only 546 votes in 2022.
Political experts generally agree that Republicans have a better chance of holding on to the 3rd District without Boebert in the race, a reason she cited for her decision to switch. The GOP has a bigger advantage over Democrats in the 4th.
In her new electoral stomping grounds, Boebert must rely on her national name and convince voters that her voice is needed in Congress more than those of her homegrown opponents, some of whom have lived in the district their entire lives and represent parts of it in Colorado’s Legislature.
Her rivals include state Rep. Richard Holtorf, the Republican whip in the Colorado House; state Rep. Mike Lynch, the former House minority leader who stepped down Wednesday after a 2022 arrest for drunken driving came to light; and Jerry Sonnenberg, a former state senator well known in the region.
Boebert built her household name with a combative political style that turned otherwise tame moments in Congress into slugfests, along with hard−line conservative stances and unwavering loyalty to former President Donald Trump.
That is expected to be a boon for her in the 4th District, which voted for Trump by nearly 20 percentage points in 2020, more than double the margin in the 3rd.
Her primary rivals are not cowing before her national reputation. Instead they are accusing her of joining the so−called political swamp in a bid to keep her place in Congress.
Some have pointed to an embarrassing episode last year when Boebert was caught on video vaping and groping with a date in a Denver theater. That scandal won’t be easy to shake in the 4th District, where voters hold tight to conservative Christian values.
The district is in the western edge of the Great Plains, home to small farming and cattle ranching towns, with a segment of the population in a more urban area just south of Denver.
Before she switched districts, Boebert had been expected to face a rematch against Democrat Adam Frisch, whom she barely beat two years ago and who had already far out−fundraised her this year.
Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Jesse Bedayn, The Associated Press