Lauren Boebert will switch congressional districts to improve her chances of winning in 2024

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The Unaffiliated — All politics, no agenda.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert announced Wednesday night that she is ditching her reelection bid next year in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District to run instead in the state’s 4th Congressional District, which is on the other side of the state and is far more favorable to Republicans. 

Boebert won by just 546 votes last year in the 3rd District, which spans Colorado’s Western Slope into Pueblo and southeastern Colorado. The 4th District is anchored in Douglas County and includes Loveland and the state’s rural Eastern Plains. 

The 3rd District leans 9 percentage points in Republicans’ favor while the 4th District leans 27 points toward the GOP, according to a nonpartisan analysis of election results from 2016 to 2020 by staffers for the Colorado legislature. Boebert doesn’t have to live in the 4th District to represent it.

“I did not arrive at this decision easily,” Boebert said in a Facebook video announcing the move. “A lot of prayer, a lot of tough conversations and a lot of perspective convinced me that this is the best way I can continue to fight for Colorado, for the conservative movement and for my children’s future.”

The bombshell news comes as Boebert’s reelection chances in the 3rd District look dim. 

Her narrow victory in 2022 was seen as a referendum on her boisterous behavior in Congress — including interrupting President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in 2022 and making an Islamophobic joke about Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Her image was further tarnished when she and a male companion were ejected in September from a performance in Denver of the musical “Beetlejuice” for talking loudly, vaping and using her phone. 

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Surveillance cameras also recorded Boebert and her date apparently groping each other during the musical. 

Boebert initially downplayed the incident, denying that she was vaping. But the congresswoman released a mea culpa after the video recording was released and then went on a districtwide apology tour asking her constituents for their trust.

“When it comes to a personal night out,” she said at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Montezuma County, “I hope that you accept my heartfelt apology.”

The “Beetlejuice” incident and the national headlines that followed came as Boebert was trying to moderate her image and focus her campaign message more on her legislative work in Congress. 

She passed her first bill — the Pueblo Jobs Act — this year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and then voted against ousting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October, calling the vote a distraction. 

“I’m always looking to find common sense legislation to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Boebert told The Sun in a recent interview.

But the congresswoman’s switch to run in the 4th District, which was several weeks in the making, is an acknowledgement that Boebert’s attempted shift from a no-holds-barred, gun-on-her-hip politician to a serious policymaker likely won’t be enough to win reelection to her current seat. She has struggled to fundraise for her 3rd District reelection bid and has lost the support of big-name Republicans in western Colorado.

“Personally,” Boebert said in her video Wednesday, “this announcement is a fresh start following a pretty difficult year for me and my family.”

Boebert, a 37-year-old divorced mother of four boys who is also a grandmother, lives in Garfield County, near the town of Silt, which is hundreds of miles from the 4th District’s boundaries. However, members of Congress don’t have to live in their district — just the state the district is in — so she doesn’t have to move to run in the 4th District.  

The congresswoman said in her Facebook video that she would move into the 4th District in 2024. She highlighted how the 3rd District and 4th District are similar in their rural makeup.

Boebert had $1.4 million in her 3rd District campaign account at the end of September, money that she can use in her 4th District bid and that will give her a significant advantage over other GOP primary contenders in the district.

Boebert’s decision to run in the 4th District doesn’t come without political risk. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, leaves the chamber after the Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to censure Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., at the Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2023. A surprise effort by hard-right House Republicans to impeach President Joe Biden has been sidelined for now, but the ability of Boebert to force the issue to a House vote demonstrates the ever-escalating challenge Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces in controlling his his own Republican majority.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The 4th District is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor, but he announced Nov. 1 that he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2024, citing the GOP’s embrace of election conspiracies and Congress’ inability to get work done. 

There is already a long list of candidates vying to replace Buck, including: 

  • Former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. He’s currently a Logan County commissioner. 
  • State Rep. Richard Holtorf of Akron
  • Conservative talk radio host Deborah Flora
  • Former state Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch

Colorado House Minority Leader Mike Lynch of Wellington is also expected to enter the race in the coming days.

Holtorf, in a written statement, blasted Boebert for her move.

“If you can’t win in your home,” he said, “you can’t win here. She knew she’d lose in her own district and I’ll show her that’ll she’ll lose here too.”

Boebert’s decision to not run for reelection in the 3rd District is likely good news for national Republicans who need the seat to hold onto their narrow majority in the House. Without Boebert running, the GOP likely has a better chance of keeping control of the district. 

There’s little evidence to suggest a Democrat can win in the 3rd District if Boebert isn’t the Republican nominee. The district hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress since 2008. And when redistricting happened in 2021, the 3rd District was made more favorable to Republicans

Boebert is the variable that best explains why the reliably GOP district moved into the competitive column. Democrats’ messaging in the district has been anti-Boebert, not anti-Republican — and there’s a big reason for that.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., walks in the House chamber as the House meets for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

If you exclude Boebert’s 546-vote win in 2022, the closest 3rd District race since Republicans took control of the district in 2010 happened that year, when U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton beat incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. John Salazar by 4 percentage points. That was before the district’s boundaries were redrawn in 2011 ahead of the 2012 election cycle and made more favorable to Republicans.

(Boebert beat Tipton in the Republican primary in 2020.)

The second-closest 3rd District race since 2010 other than Boebert’s close shave in 2022 was Boebert’s 6-point victory in 2020 over former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a Democrat.

“Republicans will hold the 3rd and I’ll proudly represent the 4th and Republicans will be stronger for it,” Boebert said in her video, saying that the decision was in part because of Democratic spending against her heading into the election year.

Rocky Mountain Values, a liberal political nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors, began airing ads in April criticizing Boebert. The group told The Sun it planned to spend $2 million through next year to block the congresswoman from winning reelection.

“I will not allow dark-money that is directed at destroying me to steal this seat,” Boebert said in her statement.

But Boebert had intraparty problems in the 3rd District, too.

There were already several Republicans running against Boebert in the 3rd District primary, including Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, who is supported by a number of big-name Republicans, including former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown. 

The conservative editorial board of The Colorado Springs Gazette also endorsed Hurd over Boebert this month.

Two other GOP contenders — Carbondale investor Russ Andrews and Delta County business owner Curtis McCrackin — may be able to self-fund their campaigns. 

Boebert’s departure from the race is likely to prompt other Republicans to run in the 3rd District.

On the Democratic side, former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch is running to represent the 3rd District after losing narrowly to Boebert in 2022. Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout is also running in the Democratic primary.

Adam Frisch, the Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, gives an interview at the election night party at BellyUp in downtown Aspen on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. He lost to Lauren Boebert by 546 votes in 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/Special to The Colorado Sun)

Frisch, who raised $8.6 million for his campaign through Sept. 30, said in a written statement Wednesday night that he will stay the course.

“We have one of the greatest name ID, fundraising and district-wide relationship advantages for any challenger in the country,” he said.”From Day 1 of this race, I have been squarely focused on defending rural Colorado’s way of life, and offering common sense solutions to the problems facing the families of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. My focus will remain the same.”

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Shad Murib said Boebert’s decision was a victory for Democrats. “We scared her straight and chased her out of her own district,” he said in a written statement.

Colorado’s 3rd and 4th congressional districts have big fundamental differences.

Much of the 3rd District is mountainous and its population centers are Pueblo, Grand Junction and ski and resort towns like Aspen and Durango.

In the 4th District, more than half of the district’s 721,715 population lives in Douglas County, a conservative Denver suburb. Larimer County, which is where Loveland is, has the next highest population share in the district, at 107,000.

The rest of the district’s population is spread across Colorado’s vast and sparsely populated Eastern Plains, which includes counties that border Nebraska, Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle.

Storm clouds south of Ordway, Colo., on July 24, 2020. Ordway is in Crowley County in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District. (Joe Mahoney, Special to the Sun)

The 4th District has had just one Democratic representative since 1973 — former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, who was elected in 2008 and then lost her reelection bid in 2010 to Republican Cory Gardner, who went on to become a U.S. senator.

Colorado’s congressional primary elections will be held June 25.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Colorado Sun correspondent Sandra Fish contributed to this report.

Type of Story: News

Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

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Lauren Boebert will switch congressional districts to improve her chances of winning in 2024

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