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January 11, 2024 10:09 AM UTC

Colorado's Flakiest Candidate Runs For Boebert's Old Seat

  • 2 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

And no, we’re not talking about Jeff Crank running in CD-5–you’re thinking of Arizona’s Jeff Flake. With all three of Colorado’s Republican-held congressional seats up for grabs in 2024, the field of primary contenders in Colorado’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Congressional Districts is growing faster than we can track it–especially when it comes to unserious also-rans who sometimes don’t even get their paperwork in after their announcement.

But in the growing race to succeed transplanted incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert in CD-3, the latest entrant is raising eyebrows not for competitiveness, but rather a long history of losing–and a bizarre habit of switching parties on a whim:

When we last took note of serial party-switcher ad absurdum Stephen Varela, he was in the process of losing (as a Republican) a high-profile 2022 state senate race to Democrat Nick Hinrichsen of Pueblo. At that time, Varela was also under fire for raising money to attack Lauren Boebert in support of Democratic opponents during one of his periods as a registered Democrat–a history unlikely to ingratiate Varela with CD-3 GOP primary voters. Varela entered the 2022 SD-3 race under a cloud of controversy as parents of children attending a charter school Varela chaired the board of organized to demand Varela’s resignation.

After losing to Hinrichsen in 2022, Varela “failed upward” with an appointment by a Republican vacancy committee to the Colorado State Board of Education, succeeding the retiring CD-3 board member Joyce Rankin in January of 2023. With a few years of service in that post, Varela might have earned some credibility in the district to run for the congressional seat his board seat overlaps, but he hasn’t had anything like the time to put those roots down.

In short, Stephen Varela has lots of ambition, but a profound shortage of common sense. Varela won’t be exchanging his Board of Education seat for a congressional seat, but he could help ensure that Pueblo’s Republicans stay divided against the Western Slope’s fortunate sons.

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