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Boebert touts work to GOP voters in SW Colorado, but theater scandal resurfaces

Boebert apologizes again for the September incident, but her Republican rivals aren’t ready to let her off the hook
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks Saturday during the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Midway through a largely celebratory speech at the Montezuma County Republican Central Committee’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, Rep. Lauren Boebert turned serious and reflective.

After spending seven minutes largely selling the importance of her work at the U.S. Capitol and her part in building a bright conservative future under new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Boebert addressed the smoldering scandal from her night at the Buell Theatre.

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In September, the Republican congresswoman from Colorado’s 3rd District was forced to leave the Denver theater during a family-friendly performance of the musical “Beetlejuice” because of inappropriate behavior with a male companion. The incident, which was caught on film, quickly dominated news headlines across the country.

“When it comes to a personal night out, I hope that you accept my heartfelt apology,” Boebert told attendees at the event held at the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc. “Everything that I do, I want to show you honor, because that's what you deserve. And I'm so grateful for the mercy and grace that you have all shown me.”

While Boebert’s apology drew applause from the audience, the incident is shaping up to be a potential roadblock in her attempt to be a part of the conservative future she touted to voters at the event.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., holds her grandson, Josiah Boebert, 6 months, before speaking at the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
‘You can’t win elections with that kind of gap’

After a razor-thin loss in the 2022 election, Democrats now think they can take over Colorado’s 3rd congressional district in the 2024 cycle. And with over a year still to go until voters cast their ballots, the race promises to be one for the record books.

Democrat Adam Frisch of Aspen, who is expected to face Boebert again in the general election, recently reported a blockbuster quarterly fundraising haul. Frisch now has $4.3 million on hand, much more than the $1.4 million in Boebert’s campaign war chest.

Flipping what has been a solid Republican seat could have significant national ramifications, potentially helping Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives. But it also would be a major loss for state Republicans who have slowly witnessed a Democratic takeover of Colorado politics.

That fear was evident during Saturday’s dinner, as speakers like Heidi Ganahl, who lost to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in the 2022 election, highlighted how far behind Republicans in the state were when it came to fundraising.

Heidi Ganahl, who lost to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in the 2022 election, speaks Saturday during the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel in Towaoc. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“We were outspent in the governor's race, just the governor's race, $33 million to $3 million. You can't win elections with that kind of gap,” Ganahl told attendees. But, “we are Colorado, we are all about comebacks. I'm all about comebacks. America is all about comebacks. This game is not over. It’s not over in Colorado.”

A call for ‘integrity’

How much Boebert’s scandal will influence voters remains to be seen, but her Republican opponents are already pouncing.

In his speech on Saturday, primary challenger Jeff Hurd, an attorney from Grand Junction who has earned the endorsement of former Gov. Bill Owens and other prominent Colorado Republicans, made several mentions of the need for “integrity” among elected officials.

Grand Junction lawyer Jeff Hurd, who is running against Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, talks with Allan Thayer, as his daughter Gabriella Hurd, 12, listens Saturday in Towaoc. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“This seat deserves somebody with integrity, to act consistently throughout their life,” Hurd said. “What you see is what you get with me. I’m the same guy standing in front of you now that I am in public and other places, that I am in private at home, that I am at work, and that I am at church.”

When asked whether Boebert’s scandal would impact her ability to win in the general election next year, Hurd said he would let the voters “decide that for themselves.”

“But it’s important that we have a representative whose life matches what they say they are doing … and that it reflects well on our district. Because ultimately, the actions that a representative takes reflect on the seat and the district,” he told The Journal.

Bringing national politics to Montezuma County

Apart from the apology, Boebert touted her work in ousting former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the appointment of Johnson in his place, whom she called an “amazing man.”

“The way everything unfolded in Washington D.C. over the past few weeks resulted in a better outcome than any of us could have ever imagined,” said Boebert. “Apparently, I'm a leadership shill nowadays.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., delivers her speech Saturday in Towaoc during the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel. The posters behind her represent two guns that were auctioned. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Boebert claimed partial credit for helping spur Johnson’s campaign for the powerful position. Earlier this month, as the House was preparing to recess yet again without a speaker, Boebert yelled out: “I nominate Mike Johnson for speaker.”

“Mike Johnson sent me a message that night. He said: ‘Thank you so much for your support. Some other people have approached me since you stood up and said something. I prayed about it. I think I'm gonna run for speaker,’” said Boebert. “The next week, without any opposition, we elected Speaker Mike Johnson.”

But while Boebert worked to sell her national work to local voters, both primary challengers sought to make her recent antics a liability.

Boebert “has got her personality,” said Russ Andrews, a financial adviser from the Roaring Fork Valley who is also running against Boebert for the GOP nomination in 3rd District. “For me, it's about policies and how those policies help people.”

Russ Andrews, a financial adviser from the Roaring Fork Valley, is running against Rep. Lauren Boebert. He also spoke Saturday during the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Still, as one of Congress’ most prolific members, Boebert’s brand of conservatism and her speech are still winning over area voters.

“We need change, we need people that are for the country,” said Linda Randolph, 73, a Republican voter and a resident of Montezuma County for more than 70 years.

That change, however, doesn’t extend to Boebert’s seat. When asked whether they planned to support the congresswoman again, both Randolph and her husband, Tuffy Randolph, 75, gave a resounding “Yep.”

Lenetta Shull, acting chair of the Montezuma County Central Committee, speaks during the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel on Saturday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Campaign items for Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
The Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel on Saturday. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Dorothy Porter hugs Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., during the Montezuma County Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday at the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)