BAYFIELD – More than 70 La Plata County residents gathered under the Eagle Park pavilion in Bayfield on Saturday to hear upstart, congressional candidate Lauren Boebert make her case for their vote.
It seems to be working.
Boebert, a Republican from Garfield County, is vying for one of Colorado’s seven House of Representative seats against former state legislator Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat. Local residents, weary of do-nothing politicians, saw Boebert and her meteoric rise as someone who can bring new ideas and energy into the Republican Party.
“She’s just such an upbeat, positive person. That’s what I always loved about Trump,” said Kathy Bowser of Durango. “He wasn’t part of the establishment, and I like that.”
Boebert is a newcomer to politics, and she’s known primarily for her pro-gun, Second Amendment advocacy. She keeps a gun strapped to her thigh during campaign events. She gained the national spotlight after arguing for gun rights at a campaign event for former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. At the restaurant she owns, Shooter’s Grill in Rifle, the servers openly carry firearms.
She has also faced criticism for her history of minor arrests, unclear policies and for reopening her restaurant in violation of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
In her first political race, she aimed straight for Congress and managed to kick the five-term incumbent congressman, Scott Tipton, off the ballot.
Now, Boebert faces Mitsch Bush, who has served three terms as a state representative and was a Routt County commissioner, in the Nov. 3 elections. The victor will represent Congressional District 3, all of Western and Southern Colorado extending to Pueblo. Online and mail-in registration deadlines are Oct. 26. In-person registration continues until Nov. 3.
The two candidates have yet to debate each other. Mitsch Bush has bullet-pointed platforms on seven issue categories, ranging from health to public lands, the economy and civil rights.
Boebert does not have any policies outlined on her website. Her site focuses on national political values, saying she supports freedom, guns, the Constitution, energy, life, Colorado and America.
An alignment of valuesVoters, sporting Donald Trump hats and T-shirts or carrying American flags, gathered into the Eagle Park pavilion to hear what Boebert had to say.
Boebert talked about growing up on welfare, saying her mother was too afraid to fail and that’s why she kept taking government aid. She recounted the empowerment she felt getting her first job at McDonald’s and emphasized her Christian religious beliefs.
“We’re raising our boys to be men. To be strong leaders. And we know that that’s not going to come from safe spaces or entitlement. It’s going to come from faith, hard work and determination,” she said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
She said the political left wants to take away people’s rights and the virus has shown how extensively the government can overreach.
“I got into this because I saw the battle ... for the heart and soul of our country. I saw that they will stop at nothing to have complete control,” she said.
The voters interviewed by The Durango Herald were ready to vote for Boebert in the upcoming election.
Tim Karp, a county resident, was drawn to her because of her pro-gun stance.
“Today, I found out about her stance on abortion. That right there, and her stance on God, that pretty much wraps up everything that’s important to me,” he said.
They said they liked her energy, her commitment to her faith and her pro-life stance. They said she was a fighter with common sense, and they weren’t worried that she didn’t discuss her policy platform on issues that affect Western Colorado.
“We voted for her in the primary. She’s a fighter, she’s willing to stand up and do the tough things,” said Mickey O’Hare, a county resident near Ignacio. “Tipton never did. We’ve met with Tipton a number of times while he was in office. Nothing ever came of it.”
Several people were tired of Republicans who spent years representing Colorado, but didn’t seem to get anything done. They wanted change, but they didn’t want just anyone – they wanted the right person to fill the seat.
“So many times people can be part of an establishment, yet they don’t really do anything for us. It’s year after year, and you think, ‘Well, why did I even vote for that person?’” Bowser said.
“I’m glad it wasn’t Tipton. I’m glad it was her because she seems like she’s up for this change. She really wants to go forward,” she said.