Boebert faces first election Tuesday since switching districts and the vaping scandal

DENVER — U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert faces voters in Colorado’s Republican Party primary on Tuesday after fleeing a tough re-election race to run in a more Republican district, plagued along the way by carpetbagger accusations and still bruised from an embarrassing video.

Boebert, who planted her MAGA flag in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, has amassed conservative influence across the country. But those spotlights have also meant public scandals. Her decision to switch districts came after video surfaced of her vaping and causing disruption with a date at a Beetlejuice musical production.

Boebert said she made the move to ensure another Republican could win her old district, which she nearly lost in 2022, and she blamed outside groups for targeting her. But Boebert left the district having already become a fundraising magnet for the presumptive Democratic nominee, bringing in millions that could help him flip a district that has leaned Republican in recent years.

On Tuesday, Colorado voters will get their say for the first time since all this. Those in her new district will weigh her candidacy against more traditional Republican rivals. These include former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, current state Reps. Mike Lynch and Richard Holtorf and parental rights advocate Deborah Flora.

Whoever wins the Republican primary is expected to claim the seat in the heavily conservative 4th Congressional District, which spans a vast area of ​​farms, ghost towns and a conservative metropolitan area that makes up Colorado’s western plains. Voters overwhelmingly supported former President Donald Trump in 2020.

The seat opened after former Republican Rep. Ken Buck resigned from Congress. a special election will also be held Tuesday to fill the remaining months of Buck’s term, with Republican candidate and former Mayor Greg Lopez expected to defeat a Democrat and third-party candidates.

Buck cited the divisions in contemporary politics and his party’s commitment to Trump in explaining his decision to resign. Those divisions remain a factor in the race, and are also on display in yet another Republican primary for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado Springs, about an hour’s drive south of Denver.

In the race for the 5th Congressional District, Republican candidate Dave Williams is facing condemnation from within his own ranks and demanding his resignation as chairman of the state GOP. Williams is accused of using his position as chairman and state party resources to boost his own campaign.

The final straw for some fellow Republicans was a recent email calling those celebrating Gay Pride Month “godless groomers.” The state party’s account on X also stated: “Burn all #pride flags in June.”

Williams is confronted by Jeff Crank, a conservative commentator who shares a similar political platform as Williams but breaks in style and character. Both are vying for the seat held by Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who announced this he will not stand for re-election.

Voters will choose between a hardline MAGA acolyte in Williams, who has parroted Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and attacked fellow Republicans who don’t align, and Crank, who was formed in an older, more pragmatic GOP tradition . Whichever candidate succeeds in the primary will be favored over the Democratic candidate in the Republican-friendly district.

Another race closely watched by national party leaders is Colorado’s 8th Congressional District, which was recently created after a 2021 redistricting and is hotly contested, with voters roughly split between the two major parties.

The district extends north of Denver and is currently represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Yadiro Caraveo, who won by fewer than 2,000 votes against the Republican candidate in 2022. Republican state Rep. Gabe Evans and former state Rep. Janak Joshi, a retired doctor, are vying to challenge Caraveo.

Evans, a former police officer, is considered the front-runner in the Republican party’s primary. Whoever wins will likely benefit from a windfall of support from the National Republican Campaign Committee, which aims to defend its slim majority in the House of Representatives.

Farther west, between the Rocky Mountains and high desert plateaus, a half-dozen Republican candidates will look to replace Boebert as the Republican nominee in the 3rd Congressional District.

Whoever wins will likely face Adam Frisch, the businessman and Democratic candidate who lost to Boebert by just 546 votes in 2022. Frisch has gained prominence after nearly unseating Boebert in the conservative district. Frisch has now raised at least $13 million for his 2024 campaign.

Even in a Republican-biased district, the well-funded Democrat could pose a challenge.

Republican contenders include attorney Jeff Hurd and former Republican Rep. Ron Hanks, whose dissents largely follow the contours of Cranks and Williams, respectively. Other Republican candidates include Stephen Varela, a former Democrat who switched parties, businessman Lew Webb and financial advisor Russ Andrews.


Jesse Bedayn is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.