Updated at 9:39 a.m. on September 8.
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s razor-thin victory in 2022 — just 546 votes — surprised many people. In a district that should have a +9 Republican advantage, it also left many thinking she could be beatable in 2024.
The hard right congresswoman got a lot of coverage in her first term — more for her behavior than her legislative record, which may have helped with the MAGA wing of the party, but could leave her vulnerable with more moderate Republicans, as well as the unaffiliated voters in the district.
More than a year out from the election, she’s already attracted multiple primary challengers. And there are a number of Democrats and third-party candidates who have also announced they’re running for the seat.
With control of the House likely to come down to a district-by-district fight, one thing is for certain: it’s going to be an expensive race.
The two-term incumbent has aligned herself with the hard right Freedom Caucus and former President Donald Trump. After 2022’s narrow victory, she reversed course on seeking earmarks to bring dollars to her district. Boebert is also highlighting how many of her amendments have been included in bills that have passed the House, (but not the Senate). She was also part of the bloc that pushed for changes in how the House operates, like ensuring at least 72 hours to read a bill before a vote.
Still, despite her close electoral call, Boebert has stuck to her guns — literally and figuratively — whether it be fighting for culture war issues, such as “wokeness,” or her unflinching support of the Second Amendment to trying to go around GOP leadership to force an impeachment vote on President Joe Biden and opposing Kevin McCarthy during the Speaker’s race.
Boebert goes into 2024 with some strong wind at her back. As the incumbent, she will get support from House leadership for her reelection, as well as from other members of the House Freedom Caucus. Boebert’s also been a prolific fundraiser in her own right, using her large social media following and conservative media hits to raise her profile and money. As of June 30, she’d raised over $1.5 million dollars and had just over $1.4 million cash on hand.
The financial advisor from Carbondale announced his candidacy in April. The conservative says he’s running to bring more federal funds to the district. By his count, last term Boebert left over a billion dollars at the table for CO-03, when compared to other districts in the state.
He said that while he might not always be bipartisan, he would reach across the aisle in Congress and try to “turn down the temperature” in Washington.” He pledged to meet with every member of Congress to talk about what legislation they could work on together. More importantly, he said, he is worried Boebert could lose a seat that should be winnable by a Republican candidate by thousands of votes, not 500.
“I am terrified that if we lose this district, we will actually lose the House of Representatives [next term],” he said.
Andrews contrasted himself with Boebert, arguing he would be a more effective legislator. “I am older, I am wiser, I’m better educated than Lauren,” he said. “I just have a polar opposite view of what the job responsibility is of a congressional representative than does Lauren.” As of June 30, he raised just over $22,000, half of that coming from himself, and has about $15,000 cash on hand.
In August, Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd became the newest GOP candidate in the race. While he’s never held elected office, he is a former board chair of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. In a statement, Hurd said that it’s important for the district to have “a sincere and hard-working voice” in Congress and that he “is committed to consensus-building and has a proven track record of being part of the solution, not creating more problems.”
The Grand Junction native has some big names from the GOP’s old guard behind him. His campaign is co-chaired by former GOP Sen. Hank Brown and former Colorado House of Representatives Majority Leader Tim Foster. Still, it will be a steep climb for any Republican challenger to Boebert to make the ballot and to win the nomination, especially with the Colorado GOP trying to prevent unaffiliated voters, the largest bloc in the district, from participating.
In September, Curtis McCrackin filed paperwork to run for the seat. He’s run real estate and construction ventures in Delta County. McCrackin said he entered the race because of the nation’s debt.
“The biggest issue facing voters in Western Colorado in 2024 is the inflation caused by the excessive spending in the American Rescue Plan Act and the monetary policies that followed raising the interest rates,” McCrackin said in his campaign announcement .
His campaign will focus on fiscal responsibility, the separation of church and state, preventing government overreach and the “preservation of the Western Colorado way of life,” he added.
In 2022, with little national help, Frisch got within 546 votes of beating incumbent Boebert. It helped build his name recognition in the district and nationally.
The former Aspen city council member and moderate Democrat has been traveling the district meeting with voters and attending conferences and events on issues that are important to the district, from water to energy. He continues to argue that people in the district want a congress member who will deliver and be part of the “pro-normal” caucus and not the “angertainment” caucus. He has pledged to join the Problem Solvers Caucus and address kitchen table issues from health care to the economy.
Shortly after conceding the 2022 race, Frisch filed paperwork for a potential rematch. In the first two fundraising quarters of this cycle, he outraised Boebert. He had collected $4.3 million as of June 30 and had $2.4 million cash on hand, about a million more than Boebert. But that hasn’t stopped others from jumping into the Democratic primary. And unlike last time, he won’t be a surprise to anyone.
In August, Grand Junction mayor Anna Stout announced her run to try and unseat Boebert.
“[Boebert] has let our district down, and we're seeing that not just in disappointment on the side of Democrats, but Republicans are really disillusioned with their candidate,” she said.
Stout was elected to the Grand Junction City Council in 2019, was appointed mayor in 2022 and ran unopposed for her seat in 2023. She’s also the CEO of the Royce Hurst Humane Society and has worked as a Spanish interpreter. She said many people encouraged her to run.
“They're looking for a homegrown candidate who has a real track record of service to the community,” she told CPR News.
Stout argued there’s a lack of effective representation in Congress that has been felt in the district.
“This is a congresswoman who has repeatedly failed us. She has not brought broad representation and advocacy for our district. She is very interested in serving her extremist base, but not the whole district that she represents, regardless of who voted for her.”
Stout acknowledged it will be a tough and expensive race, but said she plans to rely on a grassroots network.
A former Libertarian, Adam Withrow filed paperwork to run as a Democrat in July. He’s from Pueblo and used to work in the construction industry. Most recently, he’s been focused on home-schooling his children. Like many entering the race, he expressed frustration with the current incumbent, as well as the Democratic frontrunner, Frisch. He added he wanted to run to give working people someone they can relate to in Congress.
Minor Party candidates
The recent Colorado transplant is running for the seat as a Libertarian. He dismissed the recent agreement between the Colorado State GOP and the Colorado Libertarian Party,
“I’ve been talking to the national [Libertarian] Party because the national party talks to me. I don’t talk to the state party anymore because ... they’re like a quasi-pro-Republican party. As far as I can see they’re protecting Republicans,” Elworth said.
The salesman has run as a third-party candidate before in other states. Unlike most of the other candidates, he does not live in the district, but chose to run there because of Boebert. He currently calls the Eastern Plains town of Brush, Colorado, home.
In September, James Wiley of Pueblo filed paperwork to run as a Libertarian. In a campaign release, Wiley said he made the decision after Boebert declined to sign the pledge worked out between the Colorado State GOP and the Colorado Libertarian Party.
“I will be elected by the voters of CD-3 as their Libertarian representative to Congress because the land of our district is filled with Sovereign American people whose rights have suffered immeasurable damage by state actors,” he writes. He continues, “CD-3 needs activist leaders prepared and willing to demolish the federal government.”
Wiley said he grew up as the child of missionaries in the former U.S.S.R., graduated from Pueblo County High School and received an MBA from CSU-Pueblo.
A perennial third-party candidate, Gary Swing is running for CO-03 as a Unity Party candidate. He was formerly with the Green Party. Rather than supporting endless wars, he said on his website, he’d focus on eliminating world hunger and ensuring everyone has safe drinking water. He does not live in the district.
The veterinarian from Gunnison County filed to run in February, but ended her second attempt to get on the ballot in August after failing to “see a path forward for my candidacy under our current system.” She pointed specifically to the cost to run for congress, especially in a district as big as CO-03. Her fundraising was lackluster compared to Frisch.
A quixotic attempt at the seat ended quickly for David Karpas. He filed to run in March and ended his campaign in June. He raised no money, except for the $6,000 he loaned the campaign.
This story will be updated as candidates enter and leave the race.
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