A fluke or the future? Rep. Lauren Boebert shakes up Colorado district

DENVER — Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, a stretch of ski resorts, national forest, ranches, coal towns and desert mesas the size of Pennsylvania, has long bred low-key politicians.

Its voters have skewed slightly to the right, prized practicality and for years rewarded representatives for accomplishments that fall below the national radar, such as the Hermosa Creek Watershed Act, a crowning achievement of former Republican Rep. Scott Tipton.

Until now.

The district’s newest representative, Republican Lauren Boebert, is an unabashed, social media-savvy loyalist of former President Donald Trump who, like her fellow first-term colleague GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, is stoking controversy with her far-right views and defiant actions. But unlike Greene, Boebert doesn’t hail from an overwhelmingly GOP, safe district.

That makes Boebert a test case for whether even a slight partisan advantage will inevitably empower the most extreme elements of a party. The question strategists in Colorado and elsewhere in this divided country are asking is whether Boebert is a fluke — or the future.

“Are we so locked in, so partisan, that it overshadows everything, even in these close districts?” asked Floyd Ciruli, a veteran Colorado pollster. “Bringing out such controversial forces and taking out an incumbent were not dangerous, even in a district like that.”

Boebert, 34, who owns a gun-themed restaurant in the town of Rifle, began making waves immediately. In her first month in office, she filmed a video in which she purported to carry a pistol in defiance of the District of Columbia’s anti-gun laws, argued for the right to bring firearms onto the House floor, voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s election and tweeted about the whereabouts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 6, leading to allegations — that she vehemently denies — that she was helping Trump loyalists who attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Her first taste of politics came as a response to polarization on the other side of the aisle. In 2019, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, vowed to ban assault weapons. He held an event in the Denver suburb of Aurora, near the site of the 2012 Aurora theater massacre.

Boebert made a four-hour drive from her home in Rifle to confront O’Rourke over his statement that “hell, yes” he was taking AR-15s. “Hell, no, you’re not,” she said.

Cristy Fidura, 43, who with her husband, a former oil fields worker, owns a trucking company in the former steel city of Pueblo, never engaged in politics — until she saw that confrontation. She immediately became one of Boebert’s first supporters.

“I could relate to her, just like President Trump. He’s not a politician and she’s not a politician, and running this country is a business,” Fidura said. “I feel so many people are convinced that government has to make decisions for them and I think that’s sad, that’s scary.”


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