Rep. Lauren Boebert said Wednesday night that she will not fight for reelection in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District next year, instead opting to run in the state’s 4th Congressional District, which is on the opposite side of the state and significantly more friendly to Republicans.
Boebert won the 3rd Congressional District in Colorado’s Western Slope, Pueblo, and southern Colorado by 546 votes last year. The 4th Congressional District is centered in Douglas County and contains Loveland as well as the state’s rural Eastern Plains.
According to an impartial study of election data from 2016 to 2020 by Colorado legislature workers, the 3rd District leans 9 percentage points Republican, while the 4th District leans 27 points Republican. Boebert does not need to live in the 4th Congressional District in order to represent it.
The shocking announcement, made by the lawmaker in a Facebook video, comes as Boebert’s reelection chances in the 3rd Congressional District appear bleak.
Her close victory in 2022 was viewed as a reaction to her raucous conduct in Congress, which included interrupting President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech in 2022 and making an Islamophobic joke about Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. In September, she and a male friend were expelled from a Denver production of the musical “Beetlejuice” for chatting loudly, vaping, and using her phone.
Surveillance cameras caught Boebert and her date intimately touching one other throughout the musical.
Boebert originally played down the situation, claiming she was not vaping. However, once the video footage was published, the congresswoman issued an apology and went on a districtwide apology tour, thanking her voters for their confidence.
“When it comes to a personal night out,” she stated at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Montezuma County, “I hope that you accept my heartfelt apology.”
The “Beetlejuice” episode and the national attention that followed occurred at a time when Boebert was attempting to modify her image and focus her campaign message more on her legislative efforts in Congress.
She introduced her first measure, the Pueblo Jobs Act, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year, and then voted against replacing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October, citing the vote as a distraction.
“I’m always looking for common sense legislation to work on with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Boebert told The Sun recently in an interview.
However, the congresswoman’s decision to run in the 4th Congressional District is an admission that Boebert’s attempted transformation from a no-holds-barred, gun-on-her-hip politician to a serious policymaker is unlikely to be enough to win reelection to her present seat. She has struggled to gather funds for her reelection effort in the 3rd Congressional District and has lost the backing of prominent Republicans in western Colorado.
Boebert, a 37-year-old divorced mother of four sons and grandmother, resides in Garfield County, in the town of Silt, which is hundreds of miles from the limits of the 4th Congressional District. Members of Congress, however, are not required to live in their district — just in the state in which the district is located — therefore she is not need to relocate to run in the 4th District.
At the end of September, Boebert had $1.4 million in her 3rd District campaign account, which she may utilize in her 4th District run, giving her a huge edge over other GOP primary candidates in the district.
Boebert’s choice to run in the 4th Congressional District is not without political danger.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor presently represents the 4th District, but he announced Nov. 1 that he will not compete for reelection in 2024, citing the GOP’s support of electoral conspiracies and Congress’ failure to get anything done.
There is already a big list of potential replacements for Buck, including:
Jerry Sonnenberg, a former state senator from Sterling. He presently serves as a Logan County commissioner. Deborah Flora, a conservative talk radio presenter, is a state representative from Akron. Former state Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch and Colorado House Minority Leader Mike Lynch of Wellington are both likely to run in the coming weeks.
Boebert’s decision not to compete for reelection in the 3rd Congressional District is certainly excellent news for national Republicans, who need the seat to maintain their slim House majority. Without Boebert, the GOP has a greater chance of retaining control of the seat.
There is minimal indication that a Democrat can win the 3rd Congressional District if Boebert is not the Republican nominee. Since 2008, the district has not elected a Democrat to Congress. When redistricting took place in 2021, the 3rd District was redrawn in favor of Republicans.
The variable that most explains why the reliably Republican district went into the competitive column is Boebert. Democrats’ messaging in the district has been anti-Boebert, not anti-Republican, for a very good reason.
If Boebert’s 546-vote victory in 2022 is excluded, the closest 3rd District campaign since Republicans seized control of the district in 2010 occurred that year, when U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. John Salazar by 4 percentage points. That was before the district’s borders were modified in 2011 ahead of the 2012 election season, favoring Republicans.
(In the 2020 Republican primary, Boebert defeated Tipton.)
Other than Boebert’s razor-thin victory in 2022, the second-closest 3rd District campaign since 2010 was Boebert’s 6-point victory in 2020 over Democrat former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.
Several Republicans are already running against Boebert in the 3rd Congressional District primary, including Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, who is backed by a slew of big-name Republicans, including former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown.
This month, The Colorado Springs Gazette’s conservative editorial board favored Hurd over Boebert.
Two other Republican candidates, Carbondale investor Russ Andrews and Delta County business owner Curtis McCrackin, may be able to fund their campaigns on their own.
Boebert’s withdrawal from the campaign is expected to spur additional Republicans to run in the 3rd Congressional District.
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