Recapping by a wide margin the most unexpected development in last night’s primary elections in Colorado, the stunning upset victory by QAnon-loving COVID-denying gun-toting Rifle restaurant owner Lauren Boebert over five-term incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton that has instantly put the seat in play for Democrats–starting with the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby:
On Tuesday night, with her holstered Glock dangling from a designer belt, Boebert repeated her campaign mottos over and over as she talked before and after the stunning final results were announced.
“Now I’m ready to take this same fight that I have always had in me, whether it’s telling (Texas Democrat) Beto O’Rourke you’re not going to take our guns, or standing up to Governor Jared Polis when he shut down small businesses (during COVD-19), and even taking a stand against my Republican opponent when he said he’s conservative but his voting record clearly shows he is not. And now I’m ready to take that same fight to the Democrats starting tomorrow.”
With her 100-watt smile and auctioneer enthusiasm, Boebert’s confidence never waned throughout the campaign that started on Dec. 9.
Lauren Boebert’s meteoric ascent from individual activist shouting at Beto O’Rourke to actually taking down Scott Tipton in the Republican primary despite a tiny fraction of the incumbent’s resources and Donald Trump’s personal endorsement of Tipton is a major shock to the Republican hierarchy in Colorado. There are a number of reasons for this historic upset, not least being Tipton’s own well-established reputation as an uninspiring back-bencher in Congress. In the Trump era of Republican politics, it’s entertainment and bombast that wins, and Lauren Boebert is more entertainingly bombastic than Tipton on her worst day. If we were Doug Lamborn, we’d be watching our back like never before in 2022.
But as the nation absorbs the news of exactly who has won the Colorado CD-3 Republican primary, a pretty basic problem emerges–Lauren Boebert is most likely not electable. CNN:
[Boebert’s] win Tuesday night was met with instant criticism from Democrats who pointed to comments she made where she appeared to sympathize with QAnon, a pro-Trump deep-state conspiracy theory…
Cheri Bustos, chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Tuesday evening. “Not even multiple endorsements from President Trump could save Congressman Scott R. Tipton from his extreme, QAnon caucus challenger. Washington Republicans should immediately disavow Lauren Boebert and her extremist, dangerous conspiracy theories.”
Bustos added that “Democrats are well positioned to compete and win this seat.” [Pols emphasis]
After Democrats took down Rep. Mike Coffman in the 2018 elections, CD-3 became the only feasible pickup opportunity for House Democrats left in the state. Democrats were therefore expected to make some greater effort to contest the seat than they had in previous elections, in which Tipton has always comfortably held off his opponents. With Boebert as the nominee, CD-3 instantly transforms from a longshot for Democrats to a very serious pickup opportunity.
If Republicans have any interest in holding this seat, they are flying consultants right now to Grand Junction to slap a filter on Boebert’s unrestrained crazypants talk-radio rhetoric. The professionalization of this upstart campaign, or not depending on whether Boebert is in any mood to be “filtered,” will be a key test of her viability. With that said there’s an argument that it’s already too late, since Boebert has been all over local media in the district, gladly answering every kind of immoderate question with potentially disqualifying answers waiting to be resurfaced. Boebert’s failed attempt to prematurely reopen her restaurant as the COVID-19 pandemic rages looks worse by the day.
All of that before we even talk about “QAnon.”
Make no mistake, this is a district with a built-in Republican advantage. Tipton ousted the last Democrat to win the seat a decade ago. This will not be a race won easily by Democratic nominee Diane Mitsch Bush, but the unexpected opportunity to expand the map in November against a fringe opponent means CD-3 will merit a hard fight–a fight that simply wouldn’t have been as intense against Scott Tipton.
For both sides, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.