When U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert said her decision to exit the race in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and run in the 4th was an opportunity for “a fresh start,” she wasn’t talking about politics.
“The fresh start is really in regards to my personal life. There’s definitely been some changes,” Boebert said, referring to a turbulent divorce last year.
The conservative firebrand plunged house races in both the 3rd and 4th districts into unknown and unexpected waters on Dec. 27 when she announced in a Facebook video that she is now running to represent District 4.
When it comes to the boisterous, controversial and, at times, combative persona Boebert has built in the four years since she announced her run for Congress in District 3, District 4 voters should not expect anything different.
In a chipper interview Thursday with The Durango Herald, the congresswoman said she will continue to “be a loud advocate” for her signature causes, which include fiscal responsibility, limited government, immigration policy and “our God-given rights.”
Boebert and her campaign manager, Drew Sexton, are leaning hard into matters of state and national appeal as she begins to foray in Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
And with respect to 3rd District conservatives, Boebert said the switch up was in their best interest.
Although she is not required to do so legally, Boebert said she will move from her home in Silt to the 4th District, where she is “actively in the market” for a home.
District 3 covers Colorado’s Western Slope and extends east past Pueblo. District 4 covers the eastern plans and extends as far west as Douglas County.
When she does make the move, she will have one obvious jet stream at her back: name recognition and, presumably, money. She had $1.4 million in cash as of Sept. 30.
Boebert has highlighted what she sees as similarities between the two districts: Both are rural and composed of agricultural-based communities. She is also banking on the reputation she has built to appeal to voters in District 4.
A week after launching a District 4 campaign, her pitch is rooted less in her new stumping grounds and more in conservative issues of state or national interest.
“Grassroots conservatives in the 4th have seen me fight for their freedoms in Congress and proudly defend their conservative principles,” Boebert said. “This is something I have a proven track record of doing.”
She takes credit for several accomplishments, including changes to House operating procedures (which, as some suspected, have proved to be partially symbolic). Her first bill, the Pueblo Jobs Act, was signed into law last month.
But mostly, Boebert’s pitch to District 4 voters parrots boiler plate conservative talking points: “hardworking Coloradans who are affected by inflation, by the Biden Administration, they are affected by the reckless spending in Washington, D.C., the interest rates are affecting them and this is something they feel where it matters most – their pocketbooks.”
Her introduction of articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden impacts not just 3rd District voters, Sexton pointed out, but all of Colorado and the nation.
Rather than specific 4th District issues, Boebert hammers what might be considered an indisputable fact: She’s a known commodity, even if what is “known” is that she is unpredictable (the state GOP chairman was informed of her switch hours before the announcement, he said).
“A lot of people get on the campaign trail and they campaign one way, but then get elected and govern another way,” Boebert said. “And I have a track record of doing what I promised the people what I would do.”
The congresswoman struggled to offer detailed differentiation between the two districts; representing a district with a large urban area, referring to Douglas County, was the only major distinction between districts 3 and 4 she offered.
“My job is on-the-job training,” the congresswoman said, when asked what she might have to learn about the 4th District.
Boebert’s 2022 race was unexpectedly tight. She eked out a victory over Democrat Adam Frisch by just 546 votes in a district where Republicans have a nine percentage point advantage.
She says her move to the 4th District, where the party has a 27% advantage, is in the best interest of the conservative movement. The district’s current representative, Republican Ken Buck, announced he will not seek reelection this year citing extremism within the party.
“I’m doing everything that I can for the conservative movement to remain a strong voice in Washington, D.C., and to ensure that the 3rd District stays red,” she said.
The way Boebert sees it, Frisch is running on “an anti-Lauren Boebert campaign only.” With another likely showdown with Frisch on the horizon, her move to District 4 pulls the platform out from under him.
In an October interview with the Herald, Boebert was resistant to the idea that she had blown her chances in 2024. She was on a part-fundraising part-apology tour of the 3rd District after a scandalous night at the Buell Theater in Denver, during which security cameras caught her vaping and being groped by her date.
She did not offer any concrete evidence that anything in the campaign had changed since then.
“What has changed is the $10 million that has come into the 3rd District to buy this seat,” she said, referencing an estimate of Frisch’s 2023 fundraising totals, as well as Rocky Mountain Values’ spending on ads targeting her.
Neither Frisch nor Boebert have released fundraising totals Sept. 30, and fourth quarter reports are due Jan. 31. Rocky Mountain Values is a dark-money group that does not disclose its donors.
Critics, such as former GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams, say the move is a Hail Mary attempt to retain a spot, any spot, in Congress.
“Political self-preservation and remaining in public office are now her priorities,” he wrote in column in The Gazette.
Boebert’s claims that “Hollywood elites” are funding Frisch are not entirely baseless. Names including Rob Reiner, Ryan Reynolds and Morgan Freeman all show up on his donor list.
But the scope of their impacts – $3,300, $1,500 and $250, respectively – might not be as big as the congresswoman would like voters to think. Still, it’s the line she is sticking to.
“I am protecting my voters in this move,” she said, arguing that with her out of the race, the flow of outside money will run dry.
Of the $7.7 million Frisch raised in 2023, 12% came from within Colorado. By comparison, 17% of Boebert’s $2.4 million raised came from within the state.
Russ Andrews, one of two leading candidates for the Republican nomination in the 3rd District, says that a Republican who isn’t Lauren Boebert has a good chance at winning the seat.
“I think Lauren’s problems are of Lauren’s making,” he told the Herald after her announcement.
Although the switch may be a savvy choice for Boebert’s political ambitions, GOP Chairman Dave Williams is concerned about the party’s ability to retain a majority in the House of Representatives. Like Boebert’s constituents, Williams was blindsided by the announcement and a hint of saltiness emerged when discussing the matter.
The way Williams sees it, a Republican will almost certainly win District 4. But any Republican who isn’t Lauren Boebert may struggle in District 3.
“We know are going to have a nominee that is not as well known, that doesn’t have as much money or the ability to fundraise as much money as Lauren Boebert did,” Williams said. “So from a party chair’s perspective, we’re going to have to spend more money, more resources and more effort boosting a nominee that doesn’t have as great of a name ID.”
In contrast with Boebert’s prediction that her exit denies Frisch of a platform, Williams predicts the Democrat will use the momentum to leverage more donations.
Williams is not convinced Boebert will have a smooth path to victory in District 4, where she will face several respected opponents. Despite previous victories over so-called establishment Republicans, Williams cast doubt on her ability to overcome a “pretty salacious controversy.”
But, he says, “if anyone can do it, Lauren Boebert can.”
“She’s got to convince Congressional District 4 voters why it’s appropriate for her to leave Congressional District 3 and represent a completely different geographical, and I think, cultural constituency,” he said.
Boebert says she’s keeping it neutral, at least when it comes to low-stakes arenas such as 8-man football. When asked to choose between rivals Mancos, a District 3 town, and Haxtun, a District 4 town, Boebert said, “I might just be this all-inclusive, tolerant Lauren Boebert, just rooting for the winner and the loser.”