Rep. Lauren Boebert takes lead in race for U.S. House

Ray K. Erku
Post Independent
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert
Courtesy photo

Many eyes across the nation have for the past three days now kept keen watch on Colorado’s high-profile Congressional District 3 race between Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert and Democratic challenger Adam Frisch.

After Frisch was leading since the first batches of votes were tallied Tuesday evening, Thursday morning saw the hard-right Republican overcome his tenuous 64-vote lead. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Boebert had 160,432 votes over Frisch’s 159,203.

No matter who wins, this year’s CD3 election is still a lot narrower compared to 2020, when Boebert beat Routt County Democrat Dianne Mitch Busch 220,634 votes to 194,122.

Local voters from Rifle and Silt, as well as pollsters, say there’s a number of reasons behind this year’s shift. Some say they were tired of Boebert’s polarizing rhetoric. Others say they still voted against Frisch because he represents the Aspen elite.

Colorado Latino organizations also say the Latino electorate, a demographic that votes Democratic by a 2-1 margin, according to pollsters, were more galvanized to vote this election season.

In an exit poll conference Thursday, Voces Unidas de Las Montanas Executive Director Alex Sanchez said it’s clear these margins throughout Colorado had an effect on election outcomes across the state.

“I think there’s no doubt in my mind that it had an impact,” he said. “That’s why we’re seeing such a tight race in CD3.”

Geneve Kashnig, 44, is a New Castle bartender and a Silt resident. The typically conservative-leaning CD3 constituent said she has now voted for Boebert the past two election cycles. But Kashnig suspects Boebert’s subdued showing at the polls this year is because she didn’t focus more of her attention on affecting local issues, as opposed to more big ticket items like border security and anti-trans bills.

“I think that Lauren is very visible and she’s very strong, and I agree with a lot of what she says,” Kashnig said. “I wish she could have used her position in office to attack and execute issues that were more attainable than the impeachment of (President) Biden.”

Boebert’s time in the U.S. Congress has so far seen her introduce 39 pieces of legislation. Locally, she’s backed bills on wildland fire mitigation efforts and water conservation.

But Kashnig said she likes how Frisch is a former Aspen City Council member who has political experience, as opposed to Boebert, who made her name as a controversial restaurant owner. Boebert’s former downtown Rifle restaurant, Shooters Grill, used to serve food with servers open carrying firearms.

“(Frisch) didn’t walk off the street serving fat, juicy bacon,” Kashnig said. “But Aspen is like la-la land and nobody actually lives there.”

“They have pushed us — raise taxes, raise taxes, make it harder so that the worker has to live in Parachute or Rifle or Silt.”

Brett Jolly is a well-known Garfield County rancher who also voted for Boebert. He said he values Republican advocacy for securing borders and trying to curtail inflation, saying, “If we lose the House, that’s two more years of high food prices and high gas prices.”

“Rest assured that if Adam wins, he’ll be 100% with the Democrats,” Jolly said. “If Lauren wins, she’ll side 100% with the Republicans.”

“Depending on how things go, I’d like to see somebody figure out what we’re going to do with the water situation in the West.”

Rifle residents Don Locke, 76, and Craig Chesesi, 71, did not vote for Boebert in the general election. Both are local business owners and at one point shared the same downtown street with Boebert and Shooters. 

Locke also pointed out that local voters perhaps wanted to see more emphasis on local issues, like fixing infrastructure. Boebert of course voted against Biden’s infrastructure bill.

Chesesi said the CD3 race is so tight because district voters — especially in relation to Boebert’s home base of Garfield County,  which she actually lost this year, as she did in 2020 — have started to repudiate themselves from her.

“The GOP party controls District 3, yet (Boebert) was losing in the election?” Chesesi said. “Do you think it is because all of a sudden these people turned blue? Or do you think, like I do, that they’ve lost what I refer to as Forrest Gump syndrome — ‘stupid as as stupid does.’

“They don’t want to be stupid anymore. They want someone who actually wants to represent their constituents.”

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