Why Lauren Boebert’s ploy to stay in Congress is no sure bet


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Lauren Boebert saw the writing on the wall.

The brash second-term Republican congresswoman from Colorado announced this week that she would seek re-election in 2024 — sort of. While technically an incumbent, Ms Boebert will next year run for the seat currently occupied by her Republican colleague, Ken Buck. Mr Buck announced his own plans for retirement earlier this year, leaving his seat in a deep-red district wide open for the 2024 cycle.

Enter Ms Boebert, who won her own race for a second term in 2022 by just 546 votes over her Democratic opponent, Adam Frisch. Mr Frisch is once again running for the seat in 2024. Apparently unwilling to risk defeat in a general election, Ms Boebert said on Wednesday in a video posted to Facebook that she and her family would move across the state next year in order to allow her to run in Mr Buck’s district.

“I did not arrive at this decision easily,” she said. “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.”

But while Ms Boebert’s district-hopping may provide her a greater shield against a Democrat in next November’s general election, it by no means guarantees her re-election to the House. There are plenty of reasons why Ms Boebert, 37, may still face a steep path to a third term in 2025.

Her entrance into the 4th district’s primary makes her the seventh announced Republican candidate in the race. She’s the only incumbent House member running (so far?), giving her an advantage in name recognition and an established base of support in the state, and likely to some degree in the 4th district specifically.

Those advantages are not ironclad by any means. And Ms Boebert’s second run for re-election will face burdens which her 2022 bid did not. The congresswoman’s undignified exit from a live-action performance of Beetlejuice earlier this year earned her viral ridicule on an entirely new level, including a round of mockery from America’s late-night hosts.

It’s hard to say with any certainty how next year’s rematch between Mr Frisch and Ms Boebert would have turned out; polling of House districts is notoriously sparse, and a survey in August (before Beetlejuicegate) put them at a statistical tie, with Mr Frisch leading by two points but within the poll’s margin of error. That poll was conducted and released by the Frisch campaign; Ms Boebert’s campaign likely had her own internal poll numbers to consider as well.

Her rivals may very well smell blood in the water. Just ask Madison Cawthorn, the former congressman from North Carolina (previously one of the House’s youngest members), whose own public scandals ended his bid for re-election in an embarrassing rout at the hands of Chuck Edwards, then a member of the state legislature. Ms Boebert’s career trajectory bears quite a few similarities with Mr Cawthorn’s, and nearly ended around the same time. Another parallel: Mr Cawthorn also sought refuge in a newly drawn deep-red district as his re-election chances spiralled downwards, only to be stuck running in his old district with the label of “carpetbagger” when a court tossed out a congressional district map drawn by state Republicans.

Name recognition did not save Mr Cawthorn in the end, with Mr Edwards’s voters citing the embarrassment he drew to the district as a reason for his loss of their support.

What Wednesday’s announcement by Ms Boebert really means is that her fate will be decided next spring, rather than in the fall. Colorado’s filing deadline for primary candidates is not until March; there is plenty of time for the race to be shaken up even further.

Can Ms Boebert survive and win a third term next year? It certainly remains possible, and her decision to jump to her colleague’s district will certainly help her odds. But her battle for survival is far from over.

Why Lauren Boebert’s ploy to stay in Congress is no sure bet

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