Who’s running for Lauren Boebert’s seat in 2024?

· Aug. 18, 2023, 4:00 am
220409-STATE-REPUBLICAN-ASSEMBLY-CONVENTION-LAUREN-BOEBERT220409-STATE-REPUBLICAN-ASSEMBLY-CONVENTION-LAUREN-BOEBERTHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert at the Colorado Republican State Assembly Saturday, April 9, 2022. Her ex-husband, Jayson Boebert, is to the left.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. on February 13, 2024.

In late December, incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert surprised the political world by announcing she would seek reelection in a different part of the state — swapping the district she represented for two terms for a more Republican friendly one on the other side of the state.

It moves what was considered a toss-up race to one that mostly likely leans R. Boebert’s razor-thin victory in 2022 — just 546 votes  — was the narrowest congressional margin in the country that year. In a district that should have a +9 Republican advantage, it 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 had already attracted multiple primary challengers, including one who garnered support from many traditional Republicans looking to make sure the seat remains in their party’s hands. 

There are also 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: Boebert’s exit from the race makes it more likely the seat stays red.

Republicans

Russ Andrews

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. 

Andrews contrasted himself with Boebert’s record, 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.”   As of the end of 2023, he raised just over $342,000 with more than half that coming from himself, and ended with $238,000 cash on hand.

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.

Jason Aaron Bias

The first time candidate has no website or social media campaign accounts. According to his Facebook page, he lives in Grand Junction and is a Colorado Mesa University student and works at the Olive Garden.

Joe Granado

Granado filed his paperwork to run in early February. Now retired, he lives in Fruita after years in the Roaring Fork Valley. He started out as a migrant farmworker and values farmland preservation and agriculture issues. Granado says he was inspired to run because he feared Boebert could not win reelection and he did not want Republicans to lose the 3rd Congressional District.

Ron Hanks

A former state representative, Hanks got in the race after Boebert’s withdrawal. Hanks, who is strongly pro-Trump, attended the rally in Washington, D.C., on January 6th, 2021, but did not enter the U.S. Capitol. He has also attacked the credibility of the election system, and ran an ad that featured him shooting office equipment labeled “Dominion Voting Machine.” 

Hanks made a bid for the GOP Senate nomination in 2022, losing the primary to Republican Joe O’Dea. He also made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House when he lived in California in 2010.

Hanks told Colorado Politics that he’s running to keep the 3rd congressional district seat in conservative hands, and not see it represented by an establishment or moderate Republican.

He’s from Canon City, which is not in the district. (You don’t have to live in the congressional district to represent it.) During his single session in the legislature, Hanks’ did include one county, Custer, which was at the time also in the 3rd (it was subsequently moved to the 7th CD through redistricting).
Hank’s time at the Colorado state Capitol involved several controversies. During a discussion on a bill about civics education, he said the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for government allocation purposes, “was not impugning anybody’s humanity.” He also reportedly threatened then-Republican Leader Hugh McKean during an evening caucus meeting in 2021.

Jeff Hurd

Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd joined the race in August, becoming Boebert’s first primary challenger. 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, and he snagged early endorsements from some local Republican officials as well. 

As of the end of 2023, he raised more than $675,000 and starts the year with more than $470,000 cash on hand.

David Karpas

Initially Karpas filed to run in the Democratic primary in March 2023 before ending that campaign in June. He raised no money, except for the $6000 he loaned himself. At the end of December, he re-filed to run for the primary, this time as a Republican and using a Denver address.

Austin O’Connell

This first time candidate entered the race in mid-January. He lives in Glenwood Springs and is a teacher.

Curtis McCrackin

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.

By the end of the year, he had raised, $26,000, with $3350 coming out of his own pocket and had $15,000 cash on hand.

Stephen Varela

The Army veteran filed paperwork to run in early January. He’s a Pueblo resident and currently serves on the Colorado Board of Education representing the 3rd District, a seat he was appointed to via a vacancy committee. He has also sat on the board of a local charter school.

Varela is a former Democrat and switched to the Republican Party in early 2021. (The Pueblo Chieftain and other outlets report he had switched parties more than a dozen times since 2011.)

“As a battle-tested conservative and former Democrat, I’m ready to shake up Washington on day one and effectively advocate for rural Colorado’s jobs and conservative values, heritage, and way of life,” he said in a statement announcing his run. He added he’s excited to “contribute to a new generation of conservative leadership.”

Varela ran as a Republican for state Senate in 2022, but lost to Democrat Nick Hinrichsen. He also ran for chair of the State Republican Party last year before dropping out. Before his most recent move to the GOP, Varela co-founded Rural Colorado in 2020, a political action committee that campaigned against the woman he’s now trying to replace: Lauren Boebert.

Democrats

Adam Frisch

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. In 2023, he raised more than $10.5 million and started 2024 with $5.1 million cash on hand, far more than any Democratic or Republican challenger. 

Adam Withrow

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

Mark Elworth

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.

James Wiley

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.

Gary Swing

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. 

Withdrawn candidates

Lauren Boebert

The third district's current representative, Republican Lauren Boebert, announced at the end of December that she will not seek reelection again in this seat. Instead she is running for the open seat in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, about 200 miles away. That district, which includes Front Range communities and the Eastern Plains, is significantly more Republican than the one she currently occupies. Boebert won reelection in 2022 by 546 votes, the closest congressional race that cycle, in a district that favors Republicans by 9 points, per the Colorado Independent Redistricting Committee.

Debby Burnett

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. 

Anna Stout

Grand Junction mayor Anna Stout announced she was ending her run at the end of January, 2024. With Boebert shifting to the Fourth Congressional District, Stout said she no longer had a reason to stay in the race.

“I got in this to remove Boebert from office, and while this wasn’t the way I expected to do that, she is no longer the third Congressional District’s problem," said Stout in a statement.

Stout was elected to the Grand Junction City Council in 2019 and appointed mayor in 2022. She 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. When she got into the race in July 2023, 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.”


This story will be updated as candidates enter and leave the race.

You care.

You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up.  The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!