Across Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, drivers may notice roadside billboards reading: “This is Boebert Country.”
Well, not anymore.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert made the explosive announcement Wednesday night that she is ditching Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, and will instead run in the 4th District this November.
“It’s the right move for me personally, and it’s the right decision for those who support our conservative movement,” she said in a video posted to Facebook announcing the decision. “This is the right move for Colorado – for us.”
Boebert has struggled to maintain traction in the 3rd District, where she narrowly won reelection in 2022, defeating Adam Frisch by just 546 votes. In a nonpartisan analysis of eight recent elections, the 3rd District favors Republicans by 9 percentage points. The party is favored 27 percentage points in the 4th District.
District 3 is composed of Colorado’s Western Slope and most of the state’s southern edge. District 4 encompasses the eastern flank of the state, composed of the rural Eastern Plains as well as the cities of Loveland, Highlands Ranch and Castle Rock.
Rep. Ken Buck announced in November that he would not seek reelection in the 4th Congressional District, citing the spread of extremism in the party by members who are “claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, describing Jan. 6 as an unguided tour of the Capitol and asserting that the ensuing prosecutions are a weaponization of our justice system.”
In the video, Boebert said the move was part of her plan to stay in the fight by “not allowing Hollywood elites and progressive money groups to buy the 3rd district, a seat that they have no business owning. I will not allow dark money that is directed at me personally to steal this seat.”
Rocky Mountain Values, an organization with a hefty financial punch that does not disclose its donors, told the Colorado Sun it would spend $2 million on ads against Boebert.
In an email to the Durango Herald on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the organization said “Rocky Mountain Values is an issue based organization that holds the Congresswoman accountable for her voting record on issues that help Coloradans earn more and pay less. We plan to continue this work into the new year.”
In terms of holding the GOP’s majority in the House, the decision may prove to be a wise tactical step given the personal notoriety that has followed the embattled congresswoman.
Russ Andrews, a financial adviser from the Roaring Fork Valley running for the Republican nomination in District 3, called it a “brilliant maneuver.”
“I think Lauren understood that she simply can’t beat Adam Frisch,” he said.
Boebert will face at least six other Republicans in the District 4 primary, including former state senator and Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg, state Rep. Richard Holtorf and conservative radio host Deborah Flora.
Her narrow victory in 2022 highlighted her vulnerability and she has since been haunted by a September incident in which she was ejected from a performance of “Beetlejuice” in Denver and caught on security cameras groping her date.
In an interview with The Durango Herald in October, Boebert rejected the characterization that the incident follows her.
“My voters – they understand that I have taken accountability,” she said. “I have apologized. I’ve had deep conversations with many people throughout the district and at events just like this. And there’s a lot of mercy and a lot of grace and people are more concerned about what’s happening to their country.”
Her campaign declined an interview request Thursday.
She called the switch a “fresh start” after a difficult year, which included the theater incident and a public divorce. Although she does not legally have to live there, Boebert told voters she plans to move to the 4th District in 2024.
“We cannot lose the 3rd, and Colorado’s 4th District is hungry for an unapologetic defender of freedom with a proven track record of standing strong for conservative principles,” she said. “We have to protect our majority in the House, win the Senate and the presidency.”
There is a crowded field of candidates vying for Boebert’s seat. Frisch is still the favorite for the Democratic nomination. He had $4.3 million in the bank as of Sept. 30.
Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd and Andrews lead the pack for the Republican nomination.
Andrews gleefully said the announcement was “huge,” while Hurd said it changes little for his campaign.
Hurd has garnered several major endorsements from brand-name Republicans, including former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown.
Andrews is hopeful that he will be the party’s choice to take on Frisch in November, despite Hurd’s advanced financial position. The most recent filings, which cover a period ending Sept. 30, show that Andrews held $264,000 in the bank, $261,000 of which he has lent his own campaign.
Hurd had $356,000 on hand has of filing and had not lent himself any money.
Andrews dismisses Hurd as the establishment candidate and see himself as the natural successor to Boebert. He says that Boebert’s improbability as a viable opponent against Frisch is “the writing on the wall” – but not because voters want a so-called establishment candidate.
“The district has, twice in a row now, totally rejected the establishment candidate, both in Scott Tipton in 2020 and Don Coram last year,” Andrews said. “I think Lauren’s problems are of Lauren’s making.”
But “establishment” is a label that Hurd is hesitant to wear, noting that he has never run for office before. Still, he recognizes his position as a less flashy candidate.
“From a style and temperament perspective, I am an appealing choice for voters,” he said. “ … I do believe that voters in this district will resonate with somebody that is thoughtful and articulate and focused on the needs of the district and is looking to make not national headlines, but local headlines about jobs created and opportunities made for families in small businesses and communities throughout the district.”
Hurd calls himself the “unifying candidate,” and, like Frisch, pivots quickly back to local issues.
Sounding like Hurd’s Democratic counterpart, Frisch said Boebert’s announcement does not change his campaign’s core strategy. Despite some voters’ recent turn against the congresswoman, Frisch said his campaign has always been about the district, and not his opponent.
“We have proved to a lot of people, way before ‘Beetlejuice,’ that that combination of independent, hardworking, sincere (and) authentic was working at some level,” he said.
Boebert’s headline-grabbing nature brought outside attention and money to the district, and Frisch said he is excited that the interference may follow her to the eastern part of the state.
“I’m looking forward to having my message heard by more people with less out-of-district noise going on,” he said.
Colorado’s primary elections will be held June 25.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the date of the primary election for Colorado’s House seats. The presidential primary will be held March 5, while the House district primaries will be held June 25.