On December 30, 2020, we wrote about Republican Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert’s meteoric rise from unknown slinger of undercooked pork products in Garfield County to election to Congress on a high-energy low-information pro-Donald Trump platform spiced with a dash of the then-prevalent “QAnon” conspiracy theory:
Sneaking past Tipton’s somnolent re-election campaign to a ten-point primary victory, Boebert immediately found herself under national scrutiny as part of a contingent of Republican candidates in 2020 who openly supported or otherwise courted support from the “QAnon” movement. Boebert toed an uneven line of not-quite walking back her previous statements, much like now Rep.-elect and “Qaucus Queen” Marjorie Taylor Greene was forced to do in Greene’s much more safely Republican Georgia district. Like Greene, it was never really believable–particularly as Boebert continued to echo “QAnon” talking points to her growing social media following at every opportunity.
As Boebert campaigned in the summer and fall of 2020, it became clear she had no interest in venues which required any kind of rigorous examination of her qualifications or agenda. Boebert dodged debates, skipped meetings with editorial boards not considered fully in the Republican tank, and avoided any other event where she might be made to answer an unscripted question. The few forums in which she tried to participate went very, very badly, and resulted in a wave of editorial boards politely saying the same thing: “this person has absolutely no business in Congress.”
But as it turns out, even we could not have predicted how quickly Boebert would become not just the standard-bearer for Trump’s continuing domination of Republican politics in Colorado, but also a nexus of legitimate scandal that could at any point explode into a career-threatening liability. There was a possibility that after unexpectedly taking down Rep. Scott Tipton in the 2020 GOP primary and then beating her Democratic challenger by a smaller margin than Tipton had beaten the same candidate two years before, Boebert might have adopted a more cautious approach as a legislator.
But as we know one year later, “cautious” is not Lauren Boebert’s style.
With no comprehension of complex issues from which to form a coherent legislative agenda, Boebert has continued in office to follow Donald Trump’s public engagement strategy, if anything even more forcefully than while on the campaign trail. It’s a strategy, in short, of continuously earning press attention through cultivating outrage–churning out new offenses to bury old ones, and over time normalizing what was once totally unacceptable behavior. Like Trump, Boebert continuously pushing the boundaries of decency is lavishly praised by the pro-Trump Republican base, and the cycle continues to escalate.
In an entire year of no-apologies full-blast bombast, Boebert blinked only once: over the Thanksgiving holiday, Boebert was compelled by authority figures unknown to apologize “to the entire Muslim community” for false stories she told suggesting U.S. Capitol Police believed fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar was a terrorist threat. Even that brief moment of contrition didn’t hold up, as Boebert went right back to berating Rep. Omar in the phone call Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had arranged for her to personally apologize. Omar and progressive Democrats demanded that Democratic leadership remove Boebert from her committee assignments, but already fatigued by dealing with other Republican problem children, Democrats chose to highlight the failure of Republican leadership to take action instead.
On a practical level, Boebert has very little to offer the voters of her district in terms of bankable accomplishments. Instead of making requests in the appropriations process for multiple important projects that would have directly benefited her constituents, Boebert joined in the GOP tantrum over “earmarks” and delivered nothing. Instead of winning friends and influencing colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee, Boebert pulls stunts that distract from her value to the energy industry that subsidizes her. All that, and continued brushes with ethics and campaign finance oversight from Boebert’s suspiciously sloppy campaign funds that “accidentally” got used repeatedly for personal expenses. Speaking about Boebert as a partner in the most basic sense in representing Colorado, Rep. Jason Crow said it best to the Colorado Sun in today’s Unaffiliated newsletter:
Crow explained that he has been able to work with Republican U.S. Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn over the past year to get work done for Colorado. U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Garfield County, is the exception.
“Ms. Boebert remains a substantial problem, in my view,” Crow said Wednesday. [Pols emphasis] “It’s different with her because her rhetoric is just so inciteful and hateful and poses such a direct danger to my constituents, people I represent. Immigrants and refugees. The Muslim community. And those who are disenfranchised or marginalized in so many ways.”
For all of these reasons, in addition to a list of prospective Democratic challengers lining up, Boebert is facing a Republican primary challenge from two opponents including State Sen. Don Coram of Montrose. Local newspapers like the Durango Herald and Montrose Press are demanding Boebert’s ouster. Sen. Coram has no intention of trying to out-outrage Boebert to win the Republican primary, instead hoping to appeal to Republicans in CD-3 tired of Boebert’s high-liability low-results record as well as anti-Boebert votes from unaffiliated voters who will all receive a mail-in GOP primary ballot. Coram does have a path to victory–but in the event Coram prevails, will Boebert accept defeat?
In Colorado, in every conceivable way, Boebert is the face of Trump’s party and movement. Like Trump, the end of Boebert’s story has not yet been written. And like Trump, we’re more than a little nervous about how the story will end.
Stay tuned for the top stories of 2022, because no matter what happens Boebert will be in them.