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Don Coram to appear on Republican primary ballot in bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert

Colorado Election Division says state senator received enough signatures
Don Coram and Lauren Boebert

WASHINGTON – State Sen. Don Coram qualified for the June primary ballot Tuesday as he seeks to unseat Rep. Lauren Boebert from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

Coram successfully petitioned onto the ballot after surpassing the required threshold of 1,500 valid signatures by a margin of 63 signatures, according to the Election Division of the Secretary of State’s Office.

The qualification makes Coram the only Republican to challenge Boebert in the primary. Three Democrats are also running for the CD3 seat, but the district hasn’t elected a Democratic representative in more than a decade, and recent redistricting gave the region an even larger conservative slant.

“The goal in front of me right now is to win the primary,” Coram told The Durango Herald. “When we win the primary, which we will, we will move on and we will talk about policies and issues and solutions. And frankly, it doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican, or unaffiliated. Those are the issues that are important to you at this time.”

Ann McCoy Harold helps collect signatures for Don Coram to appear on the Republican primary ballot. She is joined by Steve Parker (to her right), Jim Sheppard (to her left) and Bud Poe signing the petition on March 7 at Durango Joes. (Nicholas A. Johnson/Durango Herald file)

The Montrose County resident said he plans to win voters over with his track record of passing legislation when Republicans were in the majority and minority during his 12 years as a state representative. He hopes to appeal to the “80% in the middle that’s being left out,” he said.

“Don Coram is a corrupt liberal who buddies up to Democrats every chance he gets,” Boebert’s campaign said in an emailed statement. “Corrupt Coram will be soundly defeated in the Republican primary because Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is the only conservative in this race.”

Boebert introduced the “Corrupt Coram” nickname in attack ads accusing the state senator of passing hemp legislation to enrich himself and his business partners.

Coram called the accusations, which he has previously refuted, an “absolute lie.”

Marina Zimmerman, a third Republican running for Congress in CD3, withdrew from the race entirely on Monday.

The business owner from Arboles in Archuleta County failed to secure the necessary votes from delegates for the 3rd District during Friday’s Republican district assembly, meaning she won’t appear on the June primary ballot.

After losing in the district assembly process, Zimmerman temporarily announced a write-in campaign before deciding to withdraw from the race the next day.

“To pursue a write-in campaign is extremely expensive and it’s very trying,” Zimmerman told the Herald. “You know, I felt like we could do it, but I also worried then also about splitting the votes, and Lauren getting in another term accidentally.”

Zimmerman worried that she might detract votes from Coram and said she has doubts about his campaign but hopes the state senator pulls enough voter support to beat Boebert in the primary.

Coram called Zimmerman’s decision “noble,” adding that “to split the vote would not be beneficial for rural Colorado.”

Zimmerman said she ran because she considers Boebert and the “core” of the Republican Party to be disconnected from reality for promoting the conspiracy theory QAnon and questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

“It’s just gotten to such a horrible, hateful point,” Zimmerman said. “But it’s only that core. … I’ve been crisscrossing the district for the last year. I have talked to a lot of really good Republicans who are just as fed up with all of this as I am.”

Three Democratic challengers remain in the race after Democrat Scott Yates withdrew his petition to appear on the June primary ballot on Monday.

Yates told the Herald he withdrew his petition after he didn’t meet the 1,500 signature threshold. Yates submitted more than 1,900 signatures but hundreds were deemed invalid, he said. He decided to withdraw rather than challenge the signatures in court because he didn’t want to “look like the guy who sued to get on.”

Yates made eliminating daylight saving time his signature campaign issue in an effort to unite people rather than divide, he said.

“The politics industry views (outrage) as the only way to run a race and so I was outside of that process,” he said. “It was harder to raise money, it was harder to get anybody’s attention, people kind of didn’t take me seriously.”

Democrats likely face an uphill battle to beat a Republican candidate for CD3, having lost the last six elections. Sol Sandoval, the Democratic fundraising front-runner, has argued that her campaign will prevail by engaging Latino communities and unaffiliated voters “who otherwise may not feel this race speaks to them.”

Skye Witley, a senior at American University in Washington, D.C., is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez. He can be reached at switley@durangoherald.com.

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