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

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DENVER (AP) — U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert faces voters in Colorado’s GOP primary election Tuesday after she fled a tough reelection race to run in a more Republican-leaning district, harried along the way by accusations of carpetbagging and still bruised by an embarrassing video.

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

Boebert said she made the switch 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 likely Democratic candidate, who has pulled in millions that may help him flip a district that has leaned Republican in recent years.

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

Whoever wins that Republican primary is expected to claim the seat in the heavily conservative 4th Congressional District, which sweeps across a wide expanse of ranches, ghost towns and a conservative metropolitan area that make up Colorado’s western plains. Its voters overwhelmingly backed former President Donald Trump in 2020.

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The seat opened up after former Republican Rep. Ken Buck resigned from Congress. A special election is also being held Tuesday to fill the remaining months of Buck’s term, where Republican candidate and former mayor Greg Lopez is expected to beat a Democrat and third-party candidates.

Buck cited the divisiveness of today’s politics and his party’s devotion to Trump in explaining his decision to resign. That division remains a factor in the race, and is also on display in yet another Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in Colorado Springs, about an hour drive south of Denver.

In the 5th Congressional District race, Republican candidate Dave Williams faces condemnation from his own ranks and demands for his resignation as the state GOP’s chair. Williams has been 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 posted: “Burn all the #pride flags this June.”

Williams faces Jeff Crank, a conservative commentator who shares a similar political platform with Williams but breaks in style and disposition. Both are vying to fill the seat of Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who announced he won’t be seeking reelection.

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’s molded in an older, more pragmatic GOP tradition. Whichever candidate succeeds in the primary will be favored against the Democratic nominee in the Republican-friendly district.

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

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

Evans, a former police officer, is considered the frontrunner in the GOP primary. Whoever wins will likely benefit from a windfall of support from the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is intent on defending the party’s thin House majority.

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

Whoever wins will likely be up against Adam Frisch, the businessman and Democratic candidate who lost to Boebert by only 546 votes in 2022. Frisch has amassed name recognition after nearly unseating Boebert in the conservative district. Frisch has now raised at least $13 million for his 2024 campaign.

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

The Republican contenders include attorney Jeff Hurd and former state Republican Rep. Ron Hanks, who’s differences 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.

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This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Rep. Caraveo’s first name to Yadira, instead of Yadiro.

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Jesse Bedayn is a corps 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.





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