Colorado politics: Who is Lauren Boebert?

Congressional candidate Lauren Boebert grabbed national headlines Tuesday with a stunning Republican primary win over five-term Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

The first question for some: Who is Lauren Boebert?

Boebert, 33, is the mother of four boys and was previously best known as the founder, owner and manager of Shooters Grill in Rifle, where waitresses carry loaded guns and customers order the M16 burrito or the guac nine burger or the Swiss and Wesson.

Boebert’s husband, Jayson, has worked his entire adult life in oil and gas fields, primarily in western Colorado, according to her campaign website.

What political experience does she have?

Boebert has never held or even run for political office before, but she has shown a talent for attaching herself to salient issues and making headlines for her activism, which surely helped her Tuesday.

She reopened her restaurant in early May in defiance of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ coronavirus order closing them, prompting the suspension of her food license.

And last September, she showed up at a metro Denver campaign event for Beto O’Rourke, then a presidential candidate running on gun control. Boebert grabbed a microphone and told him, “Hell no, you won’t take our guns.”

She’s also active in anti-National Popular Vote Compact efforts — an issue that has been popular among western Colorado Republicans. Boebert says she collected signatures to get the matter on November ballots.

Why did she win?

As you might suspect, that depends who you ask. The question can be framed another way: Why did Tipton, a five-term congressman, lose?

Tipton hardly campaigned in the primary, seemingly believing he would win easily, as he usually does. In emails to supporters and in social media posts, he never mentioned Boebert and rarely mentioned there was an election Tuesday.

Boebert, on the other hand, ran a spirited campaign, hitting Tipton on several issues and claiming she was the more adamant supporter of President Donald Trump, which endeared her to many Republicans in the district.

Does she believe in QAnon?

As a flurry of headlines in national news outlets popped up Tuesday night, many claimed that Boebert is a supporter of QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that involves secret plots against Trump, international child sex trafficking rings, and the faked death of John F. Kennedy Jr., among other far-out ideas.

It might be more accurate to say Boebert has been Q-curious. Boebert was a guest on a QAnon-friendly web program and said she was “familiar with that” theory. “I hope that this is real. It only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values and that’s what I am for.”

Tuesday night, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement that “Washington Republicans should immediately disavow Lauren Boebert and her extremist, dangerous conspiracy theories.”

But don’t count on that. The National Republican Congressional Committee instead congratulated Boebert on her victory and accused Democrats of being conspiracy theorists for believing theories about Trump and Russia related to impeachment.

Can she win in November?

Definitely — the seat has been in Republican hands for a decade — but the race just became much more interesting.

Tipton won re-election over Diane Mitsch Bush by 8 percentage points in 2018, a comfortable but not overwhelming margin. Mitsch Bush will now face Boebert in November, and races are almost always closer when there isn’t an incumbent.

Both the DCCC and NRCC put out memos Wednesday morning explaining how they can win in November. The DCCC pointed to Mitsch Bush’s fundraising — she is better at it than Boebert — and Boebert’s comments on QAnon.

The NRCC says Mitsch Bush is “far too liberal to compete in this solid red district” and claims the 3rd District “is very much Trump country.” The president won the 3rd District by a dozen percentage points in 2016.

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