Rep. Lauren Boebert’s redistricting tactic looms over Colorado primary

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s redistricting tactic looms over Colorado primary

Washington- Rep. Lauren Boebert will face voters in a new district on Tuesday, as Coloradans head to the polls in the state’s primary, where they will determine whether Boebert’s district-flipping gambit pays off.

Boebert, who was first elected in 2020 and narrowly won re-election in Colorado’s 3rd District in 2022, chose to run in a more conservative-friendly district this year following former Rep. Ken Buck’s decision not to seek re-election. She is one of six Republicans vying for her party’s nomination in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District on Tuesday, raising the profile of the race in the process.

While Boebert won her reelection bid in Colorado’s 3rd District, which makes up a large portion of the western and southern part of the state, by just over 500 votes in 2022, Colorado’s 4th District, a majority of which is composed of the east of the state. Plains, it’s much safer for Republicans. Voters in the district backed former President Donald Trump in 2020, and Buck handily won re-election in 2022 with more than 60% of the vote.

But Boebert’s reputation contrasts with Buck’s. While both have been aligned with the House Freedom Caucus, they differ in style, with the five-term conservative congressman citing dysfunction in Congress and growing political polarization as the reason for his early appointment. resignation of the House in March. And while Buck has spoken out about his party’s priorities, its leader and the direction he is taking with the growing influence of the far right, Boebert has been among the pack and, at times, fueling the chaos.

Rep. Lauren Boebert outside the U.S. Capitol following a vote on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The primary also marks Boebert’s first election since a handful of personal embarrassments have colored her national profile. Chief among them was an incident last year when she was removed from a theater performance of “Beetlejuice” in Denver for disruptive behavior. Boebert issued a statement apologizing for the incident, citing her “public and difficult divorce” from her and saying that she “failed” to live up to her values.

When Boebert announced she was running for a different district, she said her “tough year” influenced the decision.

“Personally, this announcement is a new beginning after a pretty difficult year for me and my family,” Boebert said in a video announcing the district change. “I had never been in politics before and I had never gone through a divorce, which is something I never intended to go through. I made my own personal mistakes and I acknowledged them and apologized for them.”

Despite the campaign troubles, Trump endorsed Boebert in a social media post in March, calling her a “proven conservative” and “America’s first trusted fighter,” while citing her record in pushing to impeach the president. Biden and on immigration, among other things.

Still, Boebert’s opponents have accused her of acting like a sham, pointing out that she lived hundreds of miles from some of the voters she would represent if she won in November. But the Republican firebrand has responded that she has experience in Congress that her opponents lack. And for voters, part of the decision could come down to what they value most: Boebert’s national profile and record or a candidate with deep ties to the district.

“While these people are in Colorado talking about what they would do, could do, maybe would do, want to do, I’m actually doing the work,” Boebert said in March.

Other Republicans running in the primary include former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, state Reps. Richard Holtorf and Mike Lynch and Deborah Flora, a radio host and parent’s rights advocate.

Regardless of what voters decide in the primary, the seat is expected to remain under Republican control in November. The district represents most of rural eastern Colorado, along with the southern part of the Denver metropolitan area. The last Democrat to represent the district, which has otherwise remained under Republican control since 1973, was Rep. Betsy Markey from 2009 to 2011.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s primaries, Boebert was still the favorite in the race.. But what complicates matters for voters is not just one vote for Buck’s successor in the district, but two.

Coloradans will vote in the primary for a candidate to begin a new term in the 4th District seat. But they will also vote for a candidate to fill the remainder of Buck’s term due to his early departure.

Boebert chose not to run to serve out the remainder of Buck’s term, saying in March that he would not “further endanger” the slim Republican majority in the House by resigning his current seat to take Buck’s. She argued that the decision to hold a special election at the time of the primary was made by the Republican establishment to hurt its chances, and also said it would confuse voters.

But Boebert’s chances of winning the full term were helped by the selection of Republican Greg Lopez to face a Democrat in the special election, since Lopez is not running for a new term.

Meanwhile, Boebert’s turnaround has set her up for competition. former seat in Colorado’s 3rd districtwhere a large number of Republicans seek the nomination on Tuesday.

Among the candidates is former state Representative Ron Hanks, who was at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Although he made it clear that he did not enter the building, he promoted Trump’s election denialism. And Democrats have worked to boost hanks and his far-right primary skills to bolster his chances of winning the competitive seat in November, when his candidate will face the Republican candidate.

For Democrats, a showdown in the 3rd District with the candidate they consider most extreme is exactly what they hope for, with the goal of facilitating a victory for Democratic candidate Adam Frisch, who narrowly lost to Boebert in 2022. But if Whether the move will pay dividends in November or help send a fringe member of the opposing party to Congress remains to be seen.