As the Colorado Sun’s Sandra Fish reports, the Republican primary for the brand-new Eighth Congressional District is kicking off with a literal bang as “Pistol-Packin'” former state Rep.-turned Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine files to run in Colorado’s–and maybe 2022’s–most competitive congressional race:
Saine, who filed paperwork Tuesday to launch her campaign, is the first high-profile Republican to formally jump into the race to represent the district, which stretches from the north Denver suburbs to Greeley.
The district is 39% Hispanic and is expected to be one of the most competitive contests in the country in 2022. Democrats will have a 1.3 percentage point advantage in the district, according to an analysis by nonpartisan legislative staff of the results of eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020…
Saine, who was elected to the Weld County commission in 2020, is known as a conservative firebrand.
As a departing lawmaker, Saine convened a December 2020 hearing on election integrity that one Democratic leader called a “dangerous stunt.” The hearing resulted in no evidence of fraud.
During Rep. Saine’s four terms serving in the Colorado House, Saine helped anchor the far-right Republican minority supported by locally powerful gun-rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and politically loyal to now-ousted House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Saine courted controversy as far back as 2013 much the way Rep. Lauren Boebert and other more recent Republican outrage machines have made routine today, memorably being chased through the Capitol by reporters with a box of fried chicken at the tail end of a controversy that began with fellow hard-right Sen. Vicki Marble’s giving an in-committee lecture about “the black diet.”
In 2017, Rep. Saine was caught trying to pass through security at Denver International Airport with a loaded pistol–a mistake that earned Saine a mugshot in the permanent record, but in the end no criminal charges. Saine came out blasting the following month, introducing legislation to weaken Colorado gun laws like nothing had happened. Saine was a reliable co-sponsor of many of the worst dead-on-arrival Republican “message bills” like felony abortion bans, and never missed a chance to mangle history in the most offensive way conceivable during tributes and debates on the House floor.
But if you’re thinking all of this baggage hurts Lori Saine, at least to the horizon of the Republican primary these are assets more than they are weaknesses. Not just a creature of the RMGO machine, Saine has served for years in various roles with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)–and through that organization may well have developed relationships that could be advantageous in a primary. Saine’s first few fundraising reports will tell us to what extent that experience is being capitalized on.
There’s going to be a spirited Republican primary, and love her or hate her, you can’t count Lori Saine out.