Congressional hopeful Lauren Boebert credits grassroots campaigning and constituent frustration over the D.C. establishment with propelling her to a primary-night win.
Boebert, the Rifle businesswoman best known for her open-carry restaurant, Shooters Grill, ousted five-term Scott Tipton to become the GOP’s nominee for the 3rd Congressional District. She will face Democratic candidate Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state legislator, in November.
“It was an upset of the establishment that we were expecting,” Boebert said Tuesday, of notching her primary win. During her campaign, and while gathering signatures to place a question about the National Vote Compact on Colorado’s November ballot, she heard from scores of residents.
“The message is the same. The people here are done with D.C. politics as usual. They don’t want these out of touch politicians to underrepresent them,” Boebert said.
Boebert defeated Tipton June 30, in part by carrying Montrose County, where she landed 64.2 % of the vote to her competitor’s 35.8 %. Results were similar in Delta and Mesa counties.
“Watching those numbers come in was pure joy,” Boebert said. “But leading up to that moment, there was strong confidence. This was the exact campaign I wanted to run.”
She said she knew Tipton could outspend her, but that she was determined not to be outworked.
Boebert’s campaign includes her “Contract With Colorado,” which lists commonly held conservative views related to such topics as the free market, border security, energy and limited government.
She attracted criticism on the primary campaign trail for comments she made on Ann Vandersteel’s “SteelTruth” show.
At the time, Boebert remarked on the QAnon movement, a widely panned conspiracy theory that has promoted the notion of a global pedophile ring involving world leaders and celebrities, as well as the belief that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was actually appointed to investigate Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and others.
Of QAnon, Boebert told Vandersteel in May: “Everything that I’ve heard of Q, 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.
“Everything I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together stronger, and if this is real, then it could be really great for our country.”
Although critics viewed this as an endorsement, Boebert said that’s not so.
“I am not a QAnon follower,” she told the Montrose Daily Press. “I know even less about it than I thought I did. What I was getting to was, if you want to call it the deep state, is uncovering those activities that are taking place.”
Boebert said she was looking at investigations by the U.S. Attorney General and Inspector General’s offices to expose what may be people actively undermining President Donald Trump.
“I don’t believe it’s a radical notion to want to get to the truth of government workers undermining our chief executive,” Boebert said.
When asked, Boebert said Trump should be held accountable for any proven missteps, as should anyone. “We should all be held accountable,” she said, referring to her Contract With Colorado that pledges: “I’ll hold myself accountable, and you can, too.”
The president, who had endorsed Tipton, promptly tweeted a congratulations “on a really great win” to Boebert after the primary. She has since traveled to South Dakota for Trump’s Fourth of July address at Mt. Rushmore.
Boebert said tackling the issues facing the 3rd District must include addressing what she sees as government overreach. The COVID-19 pandemic shows how easily rights can be taken away, she said.
“It’s crazy when all of a sudden, bureaucrats can step in and tell you when you can shop and where,” Boebert said, also mentioning state restrictions on what businesses can be open, and to what extent.
At the start of state restrictions, which have since been relaxed to an extent, retail giant Walmart was allowed to remain open because it sells groceries, which are essential. But the Shooters Grill could not offer sit-down dining and Boebert said that was an example of the government choosing winners and losers.
In early May, Boebert opened her restaurant to diners anyway, and after being issued a cease and desist order, moved tables and chairs outside. Her restaurant license was subsequently reinstated and the grill was allowed to open after Garfield County received a variance to state stay-home orders.
Boebert is taking aim at a 2019 state law that made Colorado one of 15 states to enact the National Popular Vote Compact — an agreement to award the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.
Backers of the compact say it ensures every vote, in every state counts.
But Boebert says the compact would tip power to more populous states, such as California, and placed the 3rd District in jeopardy of having its resources stolen.
She worked to place on the November ballot a referendum asking voters whether Colorado should remain part of the compact. A “yes” vote would keep Colorado in the compact. A “no” vote would remove it.
In keeping with her Contract With Colorado, Boebert pledged support for the energy industry, which she credits for part of her customer base at Shooters Grill, as well as the state’s economy overall.
The industry is huge, and she agrees with Trump’s desire to make the country energy-dominant, Boebert said.
“We have the opportunity to assist in that right here in our district,” she said — but that requires a strong voice to advocate for Western Slope values, she added.
“We’ve had representation for a decade now that has remained utterly silent,” Boebert said.
When asked about her plans to address the district’s issues, Boebert said she will fight to send Trump better bills, instead of adopting “go-along-to-get-along” approaches. And although bipartisanship is valuable, conservatives have compromised to get some of what they want, only to be disappointed, she said, contending Democrats want to take away rights and freedoms.
“It’s never enough for them,” said Boebert.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dinged Boebert as having “made headlines for all the wrong reasons,” referencing QAnon, the Affordable Care Act and Boebert’s decision to open Shooters Grill before restrictions had been relaxed. In fundraising literature, Mitsch Bush’s campaign called Boebert “far right” and “a danger to Colorado.”
The Daily Press intends to feature Mitsch Bush in a future edition.
Boebert is a political neophyte, but said as a business owner, she understands what it means to create and retain jobs.
For seven years, she also conducted outreach to women in jail, which she characterized as offering a message of personal responsibility and instruction for a faith-filled life that is not dependent on government.
“I have brought these women to my home; I have employed these women. It has been a great blessing to be part of their lives. These are at-risk women,” Boebert said.
The candidate points to the governmental system as the source of many problems and says the upcoming election is more than just a choice of representatives — as she sees it, it is between freedom and socialism.
“If you look right here in our district, that’s what we’re looking at. Either the freedom to be in control of your own life, or more government control,” Boebert said.
People have to invest in personal responsibility and come together, but change will not come from the government, Boebert said, pointing to her upbringing in a Democratic household.
“I understand what it’s like to be dependent on government. I lived under those failed policies. I was basically raised by my mom and the government,” Boebert said.
As soon as she got a job, she realized she could take care of herself better than the government could, Boebert added.
“I can relate with so many people here in the district, unlike an out of touch politician can. … I’ve lived that poverty lifestyle. I’ve lived that dependence on government. I understand how restrictive that is on your success in life,” she said.
“ … The voters understand this is about freedom, or more government control. And freedom will win.”