Lauren Boebert, gun-rights activist, upsets House GOP incumbent in Colorado

Lauren Boebert, gun-rights activist, upsets House GOP incumbent in Colorado

Carl Hulse,
The New York Times Company
July 1, 2020

Lauren Boebert, a political novice and gun-rights activist who has spoken approvingly of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon, claimed an upset primary victory Tuesday night against Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado, unseating a five-term incumbent endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Boebert, 33, is the owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colorado, and has gained attention in recent days for defying pandemic restrictions by keeping her restaurant open. She previously grabbed headlines for confronting a former Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, over his pledge during an appearance in the state to seize assault rifles.

“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” Boebert, who encourages employees in her restaurant to openly carry guns, told him during a town-hall meeting in Aurora. Gun rights have been at the center of the state’s political clashes for years after new restrictions imposed after mass shootings.

More recently, Boebert defied state orders against opening her restaurant until the Garfield County sheriff obtained a cease-and-desist order against her.

During the campaign, she argued that Tipton voted too often with Democrats and was insufficiently conservative for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, a huge area extending from Pueblo in the south to Steamboat Springs in the north and to the state’s western border. A sprawling expanse of about 30 counties, it is mainly conservative and rural, though it includes pockets of more Democratic-leaning areas, like Aspen.

In December, Trump endorsed Tipton, a relatively low-key lawmaker known to occasionally work with Democrats on some issues. Tipton is the third Republican in three weeks to lose despite the president’s endorsement, further denting his previously undefeated record of primary victories, of which Trump likes to boast. Boebert had questioned the presidential decision at the time, saying Trump was not aware of all the facts in the race.

On Tuesday night, Trump congratulated her on Twitter “on a really great win!”

Boebert had cast herself as an outsider fighting to stiffen spines in Washington.

“There is a battle for the heart and soul of our country that I intend on helping win,” she says on her campaign website. “I’m running for Congress to stand up for our conservative values, address our current representatives’ failed promises, and put far-left Democrats back in their place.”

Her unexpected victory will probably lead Democrats to put more emphasis on the race to try to snatch a Republican seat. The winner of the Democratic primary was Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state House member who lost to Tipton in 2018.

Democrats immediately went on the attack against Boebert on Tuesday night for her refusal to disavow the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, which holds that “deep state” traitors are plotting against Trump.

Appearing on a radio program last month, she said of QAnon: “I hope that this is real, because it only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values and that’s what I am for.”

“If this is real,” she added, “then it could be really great for our country.”

In June, Republican leaders condemned offensive statements about Black people, Jews and Muslims made on social media by another Republican candidate who had promoted QAnon, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who finished first in a primary for a Georgia congressional seat.

“Washington Republicans should immediately disavow Lauren Boebert and her extremist, dangerous conspiracy theories,” Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the chairwoman of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement Tuesday night. She said Democrats were “well positioned to compete and win this seat.”

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