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April 22, 2024 12:23 PM UTC

The Republican Field for Congress in CO-04

  • 8 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE #2: Christopher Phelen has apparently withdrawn his petition signatures for review, so he will not be on the ballot in June.

—–

UPDATE: Peter Yu learned today that he has qualified for the ballot, so this post has been updated accordingly.

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Colorado will have four major Congressional Primary races in June (CO-03, CO-04, CO-05, and CO-08). Now that the assembly and petition processes for ballot access are complete, it’s time to assess how each of these three races will look on June 25th…

[Click here for CO-03 breakdown]

We’ll include the same caveat as we explore numbers from each district: We’ve only seen results from one election since redistricting changed congressional boundaries prior to 2022, so there’s a limited amount of data with which to make comparisons.

CO-04 (Eastern Colorado, Douglas County)

Carpetbagging to the top!

When Republican Rep. Ken Buck announced last fall that he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2024, the field of potential candidates in CO-04 looked like it could be a zoo of epic proportions. Lots of people dipped a toe or two into the campaign waters, but the clusterBuck took on an entirely different look when Rep. Lauren Boebert packed up and moved 400 miles to the east in order to run in CO-04 rather than face almost-certain defeat in her home district of CO-03.

Republicans in Eastern Colorado made a lot of noise about Boebert’s blatant carpetbagging, but those who were also running in CO-04 sorta forgot to do the work of campaigning themselves. In March, Boebert gained momentum with Donald Trump’s endorsement, taking a frontrunner position that she has only strengthened since. A last-ditch effort to give someone else some purchase in the Primary — through a Special Election created when Buck announced that he would resign early — failed when former State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg botched the vacancy committee and Greg F***ing Lopez won the GOP nomination to campaign for the remainder of Buck’s term. There was much grumbling earlier this month when the State Republican Party endorsed Boebert in a disgustingly-opaque process, but this particular horse had long since left the barn by that point.

Anyway, Republican voters can choose from six different names when mail ballots start to arrive in early June:

  • Lauren Boebert (top line via assembly; also qualified via petition)
  • Jerry Sonnenberg (petitions)
  • Deborah Flora (petitions)
  • Richard Holtorf (petitions)
  • Mike Lynch (petitions)
  • Peter Yu (petitions)

As you can see from the Q1 fundraising numbers below, none of the non-Boebert candidates have the resources to do very much before ballots start hitting mailboxes in early June:

Sonnenberg (pictured below) was in a perfect position to be the frontrunner in this race. Buck even threw him a lifeline with his last-minute resignation in March. But for whatever reason, Sonnenberg just couldn’t capitalize on his opportunities and his many significant endorsements. He has a decent amount of change left in the bank to make a late push for votes, but not nearly enough to overcome Boebert’s significant name ID advantage and Trump endorsement.

Ffff…udge

State lawmakers Richard Holtorf and Mike Lynch ended up doing a whole lot of nothing in 4+ months of campaigning. Peter Yu has a lot of money in the bank, but most of that he loaned to his campaign; he’ll have to decide if he really wants to spend it on a longshot bid.

The most plausible non-Boebert outcome probably rests with Deborah Flora, who has more of a base in the population-rich part of the district that is in Douglas County (the suburbs of Highlands Ranch and surrounding areas). If Flora focuses all of her resources on DougCo, maybe she can make things interesting; but even there, Flora is basically just a lesser-known version of Boebert, so Republicans voters are probably inclined to just go with the brand name.

In the 2022 Republican Primary in CO-04, Buck easily dispatched [checks notes] Bob Lewis by a 74-26 margin out of 121,684 total votes cast. Voter turnout should be higher in 2024, but in a six-candidate race the winner probably only needs somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 votes.

The fourth congressional district is the most heavily-Republican district in the state, so the winner of the June 25th Primary Election is virtually guaranteed to go on to win the General Election.

Comments

8 thoughts on “The Republican Field for Congress in CO-04

  1. If the primary gets 140,000 votes and every candidate got an equal share, it would be a 5-way tie at 28,000 each. Surely the winner will have more than 30k.  Checking Ballotpedia, Buck won in 2014 with 32k votes out of 74k cast, with the other 3 splitting 42k votes (roughly 18k, 12k, and 11k).  I'm guessing a Boebert win with at least 40% of the vote, which would be more like 56,000.

    1. JiD – election law question: assuming HoBo might want to slightly hedge her bets and not blow all her money beteeen now and November.  What happens to her COH if she doesn't emerge the victor-ess?  Political or personal use? 

      1. My recollection was candidates can no longer convert the unspent campaign donations to personal use.   Checking, I found NBC says

        Federal candidates for the U.S. House and Senate raised more than $3 billion in the 2021-22 midterm cycle, but not every penny gets spent. Now with the elections over, where does that extra cash go?

        Leftover money can be transferred to other candidates’ races, political parties, PACs, charities, even potential recounts. The final destination for this cash can provide insight into a candidate’s future political ambitions. If they plan to run for office again, they can use leftover funds for another campaign….

        Candidates can’t use leftover campaign money for personal use, but that line can get blurry.

        I’m wondering if Rep. “Bim” Boebert, should she lose, would use the cash to fund a driving tour around the state to “investigate” possibilities for a run for a different office. The Republican bench is looking MIGHTY thin for 2026.

      2. I stopped practicing election law more than 10 years ago.  And I can say I genuinely miss nothing about it.  Which is a long-winded way of saying, I don't know the answer.  I'm sure Boebert's handlers will do whatever they lawfully can to spend or transfer the money for other purposes.  Sadly, I think she'll win with a plurality of voters and then will go on to poorly represent CD-4, possibly for years to come. 

  2. At least most CD4 residents know that Boebert is a wholly ineffectual legislator and a laughing stock even among the GOP. With the GOP's anticipated loss of House control, Boebert will be relegated to the last seat in the dugout. Dave Williams will be right there, next to her.    

  3. Re: leftover campaign funds: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners ( RMGO) candidates such as Tim Neville showed the way to converting campaign to cash in the pocket. RMGO created several non-profit "charities" with "consultants" who just happened to be Nevilles or Dudley Brown.

    The non-profits stated purpose was to "educate and inform the public about second amendment rights'.

    Boebert, et al, will happily follow that model.

    1. IIRC, didn't one of Lauren Boebert's predecessors representing CD-3 use campaign funds to pay his wife's salary as his campaign office manager or some such thing? It wasn't Tipton and it wasn't Salazar.

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