Don Coram

Don Coram

Don Coram doesn’t think “moderate” is a dirty word — and he thinks the majority of electors agree.

Coram, currently state senator for District 6, is banking on those electors turning out at the polls and sending him to Washington, D.C. The Montrose Republican on Monday filed paperwork to run for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, putting months of speculation to rest.

A formal announcement about the Republican primary challenge against first-term Rep. Lauren Boebert of Rifle is pending. The primary vote will be tallied on June 28, 2022.

“I’m looking at our state and our nation and I’m very concerned that the 10% on the right and the 10% on the left are making all the noise and getting all the attention, and the 80% in the middle are totally ignored,” Coram told the Montrose Daily Press on Tuesday evening.

Coram, citing George Washington, said excessive partisanship was one of the greatest fears of the nation’s founders.

“If we’re not at the spearpoint of that right now, I don’t know where we are. There is no desire to actually work together in Congress,” Coram said. “Everyone is looking for a soundbite, and something they can raise campaign funds on, and the work of the people is not being taken care of,” adding that many voters that he speaks with are upset with the gridlock.

Coram said that the ideological split within the GOP is causing the party to shed members. He expects more and more people will become unaffiliated — possibly up to 50% of Coloradans by this year. The amount of unaffiliated voters in Colorado has been rising over the past decade, as membership in both parties has also been on the decline.

Coram touted his 11 years in politics, pointing to his extensive legislative record — nearly 500 bills of primary sponsorship — from water projects and healthy forests, to making sure the state is up to snuff in dealing with the growing and increasingly destructive wildfires.

He is optimistic about his chances.

“I’ve run five races and haven’t lost, because I know how to deal with the center of the electorate,” Coram said. “The extreme right is not going to elect me. The extreme left is not going to elect me. But the 80% in the middle — we will have great conversations. I’m running to do the job. I’m not looking for something else.”

Coram’s campaign manager J. D. Key said many have been pushing Coram to run for quite some time and are “very happy” about his decision.

“He’s a sensible, practical legislator who wants to get things done,” Key said. “It’s going to be a tough race, but we wouldn’t get in this if we didn’t think we could win.”

Meanwhile, a sizable number of Democrats are in the running for their party’s primary. State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) raised nearly $2 million through the end of September before she dropped out of the race when the legislative boundaries were finalized in the fall — she lived out of the district.

Congressional representatives are not legally required to live in-district, but state legislators in Colorado need to live within the boundaries they represent for at least 12 months.

Marina Zimmerman, who is new to politics, is the only other Republican challenging Boebert so far. She has not reported any contributions so far to the Federal Elections Commission, while Boebert has raised nearly $2.8 million in the first nine months of 2021. (Filings for the last quarter of 2021 are due on Jan. 31, 2022.)

Although Coram is nearing the end of his first four-year term in the State Senate, the redistricting process rendered him ineligible to remain a state senator out of Montrose.

The new legislative boundaries split Montrose County into two sections, folding the northeast corner of the county — including the cities of Montrose and Olathe — in with the 5th Senate district. In the previous map, all of Montrose County was in the same district with the southwest corner of the state, but the urban parts of the county are now in the same district as Gunnison, Pitkin, Hinsdale, and portions of Delta, Garfield and Eagle counties.

State Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, is in the middle of his term, so if Coram wanted to keep working at the state capitol, he would have needed to move out of Montrose into a different district.

He’s staying put and running for Congress.

“I’ve been asked for years to do this. I’ve kept all options open,” Coram said. “The redistricting may or may not have had a factor.”

When asked specifically who was pushing him to run, he said people from all walks of life have been in touch.

Coram reiterated his ability to work with others at the state level, but indicated his sense of bipartisanship does not extend to signing off on whatever the majority party wants.

He pointed to soaring gasoline and housing prices and warned of spiraling inflation, which is set to go up this year. “Inflation is going to eat our lunch. It’s something that affects everyone. Absolutely, it can be better,” Coram said.

The Democratic majority in Congress is going to be put to the test in the midterms, but Coram said he isn’t particularly worried about what he might accomplish as a Republican freshman if the Democratic majority holds. During his time in the Colorado General Assembly, Republicans have sometimes had control of one of the chambers but never the governor’s office.

“It’s called relationships: you build relationships and trust. I don’t have a problem at all disagreeing with someone,” he said.

Boebert, who has touted right-wing conspiracy theories and was a staunch backer of former President Donald Trump, defeated five-term GOP stalwart Scott Tipton in an upset primary in summer 2020. Citizens in Montrose County voted disproportionately high for Boebert compared to the rest of CD3, with nearly two out of three primary ballots cast for her.

Trump endorsed Boebert after the primary last summer and came out with an endorsement two weeks before she officially announced her reelection bid on Dec. 31, 2021 in Grand Junction.

“She is a fearless leader, a defender of the America First Agenda, and a fighter against the Loser RINOs and Radical Democrats,” Trump said in a statement.

During Boebert’s announcement, she did not mention Coram by name but alluded to him when she said, “I’m certainly not a good old boy who goes along to get along,” the Colorado Sun reported.

Boebert also called the investigation into the Capitol riots of nearly a year ago a “sham witch hunt.”

Coram, who said he does not communicate with the congresswoman, called the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol unrest a matter of shame.

“I think it was embarrassing. It was a radical fringe group on both sides that were there, and what ended up were emotions out of the way and all hell broke loose. That’s under scrutiny right now,” Coram said.

Coram expressed the view that Antifa (anti-fascists) and militia groups alike participated, which the FBI has directly refuted.

A year ago, Trump supporters acting on unsubstantiated information that the 2020 election was fraudulent stormed the Capitol to halt Congress’ constitutional duty to certify the results of the Electoral College. Since then, close to 60 actions were filed over allegations of voter fraud, but none have held up in court.

Some who believe there was fraud have advanced unproven stories about the Dominion voting equipment being rigged. Counties, including Montrose, have contracted with Clear Ballot for a non-official, comparative count, and Dominion itself has sued pundits and networks for false claims against the company.

“I’ve heard lots of stories, but I have not seen any evidence that has come forward that would stand up in a court of law,” Coram said.

“Everybody wants to villainize Dominion (Voting Systems), but my question back to them is, how did any Republican win and how — just recently in the Virginia governor’s race — did a Republican win that race if the system is so flawed?”

Anyone involved in the insurrection should be held accountable, no matter their political leanings, Coram said.

“The Constitution is not a debate. You don’t get to pick and choose what you want out of it,” he said.

Coram expects a tough campaign, but said he will be relying on his record of getting things done — and that pushback is to be expected.

“If you go to a restaurant and order a big meal and you only get the sizzle, sooner or later, you’re going to want the steak,” Coram said. “Policy is far more important than politics. We need sound policy to bring our nation back — and that’s going to be done by the 80% in the middle.”

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

Anna Lynn Winfrey is a sta writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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