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January 17, 2024 11:31 AM UTC

Sorry Lauren Boebert, You're No...Marilyn Musgrave?

  • by: Colorado Pols

The switch by sputtering Republican incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert from the Third Congressional District seat she wrested from her predecessor “Sleepy” Scott Tipton in 2020 to run for the Fourth District seat being vacated by Rep. “KenSNBC” Buck, a race that already had a slew of candidates in the mix when Boebert made her switch public, has been met with an overwhelmingly negative reaction locally, even after Boebert was endorsed House Speaker Mike Johnson. Not only has Boebert failed to clear the CD-4 primary field, but opponents are excited to take Boebert head-on and capitalize on her recent foibles for their own badly-needed name recognition.

Unfortunately, the full story of why Boebert is undeserving of another term Congress requires an understanding of her record that today’s conservative bubble of “alternative facts” simply does not allow for–and this deficiency becomes glaringly evident as fellow red-meat Republicans like Hillman take aim at Boebert in the CD-4 primary. We don’t normally cite columns from former Eastern Plains Rep. and RNC committeeman Mark Hillman, but there’s plenty of subtext to unpack in his broadside against Boebert in the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog today:

Like many Coloradans, I knew little about Boebert when she upset an incumbent in the 2020 Republican primary. Charismatic and vivacious, she had an inspiring story — a high school dropout who supported herself by working unglamorous jobs and ultimately found success and notoriety at the restaurant which she and her husband opened. Wanting Republicans to keep that seat, I donated to her campaign.

After the election, her early association with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was troubling, so it was encouraging she later parted ways with the Georgia conspiracy peddler…

The first problem here is Hillman’s claim that Boebert has “parted ways” from fellow fringe Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, which can only be considered true on a personal, very much non-policy level, where the two continue despite their differences to see eye-to-eye. In terms of “conspiracy peddling,” the truth is that MTG did more to repudiate the “QAnon” conspiracy theory while apologizing for her past statements before a Democratic-controlled House than Boebert ever has.

Ex-Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (right).From here, Hillman invokes the memory of one of the great cautionary tales of Republican overreach even in a safe Republican district, ex-CD-4 Rep. Marilyn Musgrave:

CD4 voters have been through this before. Marilyn Musgrave riled Democrats with her advocacy for defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman. Billionaires Tim Gill and Pat Stryker funded relentless attacks on Musgrave, creating parody commercials with an actress dressed to resemble her. Her margin of victory dwindled (13%, 6.3%, 2.5%) until she was defeated in the Obama wave of 2008.

But there’s a big difference between Musgrave and Boebert. Musgrave is a fundamentally decent person who never sought the spotlight but didn’t duck her principles. She never embarrassed herself with public misbehavior. That’s why her opponents had to create commercials to mock her. By contrast, Boebert’s own behavior mocks what she claims to stand for. I believe in grace and do not wish Boebert ill, but Congress has not brought out the best in her…

This is where Hillman’s partisan perspective skews history and necessarily misses the point. The “relentless attacks” on Musgrave were the result of Musgrave making herself a target, not Musgrave being unfairly singled out. Musgrave’s ouster in 2008 was quickly followed by Cory Gardner’s retaking of the seat in 2010, more proof that the problem was not any external factor but Musgrave herself. Similarly to Boebert, Musgrave relentlessly flogged divisive wedge issues while the real problems facing the voters of her rural district were neglected. This made Musgrave harder to defend than the district’s partisan makeup suggests, again just like Boebert in CD-3. While it’s true that Musgrave didn’t have a “Beetlebert”-type incident of her own, Boebert’s vulnerability was well-established before that event.

It’s the inability at high levels to recognize these fundamental deficiencies that leads to the nomination of bad Republican candidates who go on to lose general elections in Colorado by disproportionate margins. In 2022, gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl’s campaign crashed and burned with voters as her campaign became hopelessly mired in election denial and Ganahl’s bizarre quest to uncover the “furry menace” in Colorado schools–but even after that humiliating experience, the state’s top Republican donors are plotting a comeback with her.

The biggest reason Boebert is going over like a lead balloon in her new district’s Republican primary is the same reason she was driven out of CD-3. Since exploding on the scene with her primary challenge to Rep. Tipton in 2020, Boebert has never bothered to help fellow Republicans in any tangible way. Boebert spent more time on the campaign trail with Matt Gaetz in Florida than she has for Colorado Republicans at any level. It’s too late to reverse that now that Boebert is thoroughly toxified, and she has nothing left to offer Republicans in return for support.

That’s a lot easier to understand than the denial Mark Hillman requires to land his punch.

The truth is that Boebert and Musgrave have more in common than any Republican dares to admit.


14 thoughts on “Sorry Lauren Boebert, You’re No…Marilyn Musgrave?

  1. For the record, I threw up in my mouth a little after reading his comment that Musgrave was a "fundamentally decent person," but I guess everything is relative.

    1. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I agree with Mark.  As a person Marilyn is not in the same class as the HoBo from Rifle.  Marilyn had a rather gentile spirit in person. She dropped by the Wray hospital once to visit my grandmother and it was a very authentic moment. While my politics on the God, Guns & Gays Ideology and hers suffer a wide chasm I’ll bet I could find one issue we could agree on over a dinner.  At least you knew where Marilyn stood, a stark contrast to those Republicans that followed her. Betsy was the hardest working Rep CD-4 ever had. It’s our loss.  To think of the contrast berween Betsy and Bobo is about as different as one could imagine.  Weld County will decide who holds that seat but I can tell you from the handful of conversatioms I’ve had in a very unscientific poll the eastern plains natives are not impressed with HoBo’s carpetbagging.

      1. Appreciate your insight, Michael.  Though I'm not optimistic for a decent candidate to take the seat, getting Boebert out of Congress entirely would be at least some victory. 


        1. I’m of the opinion this race is Jerrys to lose. Like Marilyn, he’d be a respectable (and in Jerry's case, a jolly) happy hour or dinner companion and, like Marilyn, one could probably find an issue or two where common ground could be found. Unless one is a flaming, sword swallowing MAGA, I'm not sure that applies to anyone else in the primary. 

          1. Sonnenberg was OK on basic education funding, not too surprising considering that he's married to a teacher. He also voted for rural broadband infrastructure spending. 

            However, MAGA culture warriors have targeted schools and school boards, and Jerry was quick to jump in. He's voted against accurate sex education classes , would probably vote against " Critical Race Theory"  ( accurate  War or Civil Rights history), if given a chance to do so. So yes, we could probably agree on the idea that taxpayers should fund public education. It's a low bar, but there we are.  

      2. I stand reminded about the hazards of being flippant, Michael. I detested most of Musgrave's political positions but certainly never knew her as a person. And best I can tell, she never got pulled over for drunk driving and reached for the gun in his pocket, like a certain other candidate this year for CD4!

    1. Abramoff is a blast from the past!  I couldn’t find an article on whether she returned her money like many others did (not defending, just wondering). They (Republican evangelicals) are all drunk on the notion that “their righteous God” is on their side so anything goes. It’s an old story with the GOP. Today’s Exhibit A: HoBo. I wouldn’t vote for Marilyn as a politician and would vote for Ike (if he’s still in?) over the victor in the primary, I’m just not of the opinion Marilyn is deserving of our wrath as a long-since-politically-defeated, now-private citizen. 

      1. In the big picture, Marilyn Musgrave is a flawed human being who made some choices to ally with corrupt people and bigoted policies. She used a vaguely feminist notion, built from decades of grassroots organizing by others.  of "supporting a woman" to further her own career, while undermining every policy that furthered gender equality. She did donate the Delay and Abramoff money to charities, a little late. 

        I believe most people have some redeeming qualities, and that it isn't productive to demonize anyone, as popular as that pastime is. So sure, i'm glad she was kind to your grandmother. But in that big picture, MM has done much more harm than good –  in her public life, anyway. 

        I'm kind of sick about Ike McCorkle. He had a small chance to break 40%, and a perfect storm of undervotes and third party candidates, plus the HoBo magic, could have eked out a victory. But a moment of New Year's Eve stupidity and thinking that a "no contact" order meant  "maybe contact if you're really polite" dooms that possibility. He hasn't stepped down, and probably won't. I'll still send money, because i like Ike. 

        As you wrote, CD4 is Sonnenberg's to lose. 


        1. I don't disagree with you (or anyone in this forum) of the damage done in that political time. I did have more than that one occasion to be around here during my Republican days and I found her to be a gentile personality . An  overwhelming number of my family and friends are MAGA and I try hard to separate the politics from the person as an intentional act, even when it's not reciprocated.  I despise what this cult freak show has done to families, friends and communities, but here we are. 

          On a happier note I cleaned up some files over the weekend and found some 2017 hemp harvest photos with you. I'll send them to you!  That was a fun day. 

          1. The discussion has made me reflect on harm vs good done by public vs private persona, and what integrity means. Examples:

            Your public persona "Mr. Hemp" has done much public good over the years.i don't know you well, but I think you are widely respected precisely because there isn't much daylight between your public and private persona.

            I've had to separate my public vs. private life as an English teacher for years- avoiding political discussions with students unless curriculum-related. Example: Punctuation is not political, but pronouns now are! One can't separate historical context from American literature, and  people do learn from respectful discussions. Debate students get really good at that. 

            Several of my current adult students are vax-denying Trumpers, and I generally avoid those subjects, although they're aware that I disagree. More power to you for facilitating civil conversations, keeping your own integrity and those relationships going. One of. I wish that grownups had moderated  forums for discussion.

            Yes, helping with your hemp harvest was the most fun I've had on a farm since  my kids were young.  I went home stinking of cannabis, and with a new respect for the work that goes into creating CBD products. Is your son still growing hemp? 

            This spring, I plan a trip " up north" to visit some old friends. If you're around, I'd love to catch up. 

            1. One of the best times of my adult life was the SD-1 race in 2010.  Jesus Christ running in that districtt with a (D) behind his name would lose the race, but I have to tell you I made some really good Republican friends in SE Colorado and we keep in touch to this day.  I cherish those friends.  I decided to blog here under my own name long ago as I was comfortable with owning where I stood on issues, regardless of the blowback.  Forty diaries later I’d still stand behind my positions.  I get why so many have to be anonymous in this day and age for personal safety and work reasons, at least we can engage at some level.  That anonyity, sadly, brings with it a lot of dark angels.  I’m not beating up anyone for how they feel about Marilyn, that’s a personal choice.  That era brought with it a LOT of baggage that still haunts us today: Iraq Way, Rumsfeld, Newt and his “permanent majority”, Delay, Abromoff, Ken Starr, Denny Hassert, just to name a few. It was Marilyn and Brophy’s dramatic push to the right that gave me the final impetus to leave the Republican Party. Turns out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m very proud to call myself a Democrat – particularly for all that means in the context of history and rural America.

              This is anecdotal and a Califonia story but a friend of mine works in the Orange County Democratic Party.  Dems now outnumber Repubs there and are 80,000 ahead in new voter registration (sorry, Ali) We had a win in the Florida special election this week, even after being outspent 2:1. There are lots of signs beyone the MAGA/Media hyperbole that point towards victory this Fall. 

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