Yesterday at Ignacio’s Sky Ute Casino Resort in the distant southwestern reaches of the state, a much-anticipated debate between the Republican candidates for Colorado’s CD-3–incumbent GOP rhetorical arsonist Rep. Lauren Boebert challenged by the soft-spoken but clearly fed-up state Sen. Don Coram of Montrose–played out before about 300 lively spectators. Before we go any further, if you’ve never been to the Sky Ute Casino Resort it’s definitely worth a stop. If you’re in the area in the evening, the casino’s steakhouse is the best. No consideration was made for this endorsement.
As the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson reports after having made the roughly six-hour trek to the Four Corners, yesterday’s debate was a stark contrast between Boebert’s inch-deep bombast delivered at full volume versus Coram’s less cocksure and more thoughtful delivery:
The hour-long debate between the two, vying for the Republican nomination in the massive congressional district, ranged in topics from gun control, the environment, labor and immigration. But in a broader sense, the debate — Boebert’s first since entering politics — served more as a competition between the candidates’ personalities…
“I’m just a legislator, not an instigator,” Coram said. “I’m not looking for a reality TV show. I’m looking to do the job.”
Boebert touted her conservative bona fides and cut into Coram’s record on immigration saying taxpayers are “paying for illegal aliens to get a gender studies degree.”
The biggest reason this debate was mostly a showcase of “personalities,” as Swanson describes it, was the inability of Boebert to articulate a coherent position on any subject beyond an initial broadside of platitudes followed by partisan invective. The Coram campaign’s livestream recording of the debate is not the greatest technical quality, but Coram is far better equipped to rationally discuss actual issues compared to Boebert’s almost unlistenable angry blaring. This is despite the fact that Boebert came with copious notes, reportedly well beyond when had been agreed to, while Coram spoke extemporaneously.
And in this forum, Boebert’s first live debate against an opponent, Boebert planted her flag with noteworthy vigor on the “Big Lie” that Donald Trump should still be President of the United States. Colorado Newsline’s Sara Wilson:
Boebert used a question on election integrity to spread baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She pointed to debunked anecdotes of “hundreds of thousands of ballots” going out illegally and the presence of “illegal drop boxes.” Claims of election fraud have been repeatedly debunked by experts, courts and election officials from both parties.
Boebert voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
“I am proud that the first major action that I took in the House of Representatives was to vote to not certify some of the electoral college results from the 2020 elections,” she said.
This is more significant than one might think at first glance, since “establishment” Colorado Republicans are at this very moment attempting to argue with their primary voters that Ron Hanks is unqualified for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate due to his belief in the very same “Big Lie.” Pam Anderson, the Republican underdog in the Secretary of State primary running a quixotic triangulation campaign off the Republican majority’s belief that the 2020 election was stolen, now has to explain how she can ethically run on the same ticket with Boebert.
Meanwhile, Boebert has refused to defend Mesa County Clerk and SoS frontrunner Tina Peters, with whom she has many Western Slope political allies in common–even as Peters has become a national figure in Trump’s conspiracy movement. There’s something weird about Boebert’s refusal to engage with Peters’ case despite the harm done to her reputation on the right, and if they do end up together on the Republican ticket in November it’s going to be very interesting.
If we were Ron Hanks, we’d be outraged with the GOP brass over this clear double standard. And as long as Rep. Boebert is the face of the Colorado Republican Party, which as of this moment she undeniably is, there’s no “moving on” for any of them.
As for Don Coram? He’s a good man, but this primary isn’t about him. It’s in every way a referendum on Boebert. All Coram needs to be is good enough, and although oratory will never be his great strength he was good enough yesterday.