Rep. Lauren Boebert recently announced that she’d forgo reelection in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional district and instead run in the more conservative 4th district.
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Lauren Boebert’s decision to run for reelection in a more conservative district carries some risks.Boebert’s move could create an environment where Democrats win Colorado’s 3rd district in 2024.But her decision could also lead to a less controversial center-right Republican holding the seat.
After Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in November 2022 narrowly won reelection to a second term representing Colorado’s conservative-leaning 3rd Congressional district, her political vulnerability immediately became a leading storyline in itself.
Boebert’s district — which includes the state’s Western slope and cities like Aspen and Pueblo — backed former President Donald Trump by eight points in the 2020 election. It’s generally not a place where GOP candidates find themselves barely outpacing Democrats.
But Boebert, a conservative, pro-Trump lawmaker known for her firebrand political persona, has been a polarizing figure even before her 2020 election. And the congresswoman’s bombshell announcement last Wednesday that she’d switch districts and instead run in the more conservative 4th Congressional district now creates uncertainty not only for herself, but also for the Colorado GOP and Democrats looking to win the 3rd district.
What are the political implications of Boebert’s district switch?
The 3rd district could flip Democratic
Former Aspen city councilman Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert by 546 votes out of roughly 327,000 ballots in 2022, has so far raised over $7.7 million for the race — per the Federal Election Commission — in what was expected to be a closely watched rematch.
But Boebert’s departure from the 3rd district race threatens GOP control of the district, despite its conservative lean.
Why? Frisch is running as a moderate Democrat in a district where he’s already won over a swath of voters who were uneasy with Boebert’s brand of conservatism. Should Frisch win his party’s nomination over Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout, he’d have a huge war chest and political name recognition from his earlier run.
After Boebert announced her district switch, Frisch slammed the congresswoman on X, writing that she “was never committed to the communities of CO03” and is “only in politics for herself.”
For the crop of GOP candidates now in the 3rd district primary —which include Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, financial advisor Russ Andrews, and real estate broker Curtis McCrackin — they’ll have to clean up any lingering intraparty frustrations over Boebert’s departure. Boebert is wildly popular with base conservatives and the next nominee may not have a similar level of support with this bloc.
Boebert is now running to succeed Rep. Ken Buck, center, who is retiring after the 2024 elections.
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Given the orientation of the district, Republicans can clearly win the race, especially with a more mainstream Republican as their nominee, but Democrats have only become stronger in Colorado in recent years.
As for Boebert, she could also lose the 4th district GOP primary and find herself out of a job, as she’s now running in an Eastern Plains-anchored district where she has few local ties. Colorado state Rep. Richard Holtorf, one of the candidates in the primary, immediately accused Boebert of “seat shopping” after her announcement.
… or Boebert’s decision may actually boost the GOP
Boebert’s departure from the 3rd district could also potentially help Republicans retain the seat, as they no longer have to contend with running a candidate who’s often embroiled in controversies, such as the Beetlejuice scandal that made national headlines and caused her to apologize for the matter and recalibrate her campaign strategy.
With Boebert gone, a more “normal” Republican who runs a solid campaign would be in a good position to win in the 3rd district.
Holding Boebert’s district would be a relief to Republicans, as they are currently defending a razor-thin 220-213 US House majority. With Democrats working fervently to retake control of the chamber, the congresswoman’s candidacy in a safe Republican district (should she win the 4th district GOP nomination) would almost certainly free up fundraising dollars for other GOP candidates.
Andrews, who’s running in the 3rd district GOP primary, told The Durango Herald that Boebert’s decision is a “brilliant maneuver.”
“I think Lauren understood that she simply can’t beat Adam Frisch,” he told the newspaper.
But Boebert now faces a slew of fellow GOP contenders in the 4th district primary, where Rep. Ken Buck has chosen not to run for reelection in November 2024.
The primary won’t be an easy race for Boebert, but Republicans are virtually guaranteed a general election win regardless of whether or not the congresswoman loses her primary, as the 4th district backed Trump by roughly 19 points in 2020.