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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Could Boebert fall victim to the same trap that put her in office?

Less than a year after losing a nailbiter to Rep. Lauren Boebert, Adam Frisch is touting a new poll that shows him taking a two-point lead in their presumed rematch. In fact, it shows the Democrat hitting the magical 50% threshold against the sitting Republican congresswoman.

But Boebert must make it to the general election first.

Just over a week ago, Boebert drew a credible Republican primary challenger. Jeff Hurd jumped into the race touting “serious leadership for rural Colorado.” While Boebert may hand-wave him as a nuisance, it could be just the kind of arrogant oversight that put her in office three years ago.

In late 2019, former U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton had his sights set on the 2020 general election. With then-President Donald Trump dragging down-ballot candidates into jeopardy with him, Tipton amassed a war chest and began fighting off Democratic attacks meant to set a framework for beating him in November.

Against that backdrop, Titpton hand-waved the bombastic restaurateur stalking around the district with a hand-cannon visibly strapped to her leg. She did not engage in substantive debates, relied on shrill sound bite attacks, and did not seem to be a serious contender. 

In June 2022, Boebert beat him by nine points.

Tipton had hundreds of thousands of dollars stocked up to fight for his political life in November, but saw his congressional career shot dead before midsummer. Boebert took advantage of his miscalculation and inattention to win a stunning upset. She then got to face off against a milquetoast Democratic candidate and earn a trip to Washington, D.C.

Could Boebert fall victim to the same trap this year?

I have known Hurd for nearly 15 years, while he was still in law school. His wife worked at the law firm where I began my career, and he was a regular presence in the office. Always interested in the political work we did, he was also determined and hard working. It is not surprising he found himself running for office.

Hurd will not engage in the same over-the-top antics that made Boebert an overnight sensation in far-right circles. That is not his style.

He is a smart, driven attorney who carefully built a life in Western Colorado. He planned each step, from law school success, to a prestigious clerkship with the conservative Chief Justice of the 10th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, to a law firm that grew almost as fast as his family (five kids!). That is not the type of person who would jump into a congressional race without a plan.

As long as I have known him, he has been dedicated to the Western Slope. That turned into partnerships with leading businesses and industries in the area. Those are the types of partners who can quietly help bolster a nascent campaign. They are also the kind of people most likely to be fed up with the theatrics of their current representative in Congress.

Of course, Hurd will need more than that to mount a challenge to Boebert. She dispatched popular state Sen. Don Coram with ease two years ago. Part of the problem with partisan primaries is that only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the folks in a district actually turn out to vote. Those voters usually tend to be the most vocal.

Absent a significant number of casual Republicans and unaffiliated voters supporting his campaign, Hurd is a significant underdog.

But Boebert herself may be the person helping to drive those people to the polls next June. Frisch would not have gotten as close as he did last year if Boebert had not pushed so many conservatives sickened by her antics toward his name on the ballot. Many of the same people could be ready to back someone new this year.

If Hurd is able to outwork Coram — something that should not be difficult given some of the stories that made their way back across the Continental Divide last year — pick up a few key endorsements, and benefit from some significant outside spending, he is likely to make the race closer than anyone thinks.

I am sure Speaker Kevin McCarthy might not mind if Hurd was faster on the draw than Boebert. I assume he would prefer a safer pick to face off against Frisch and help hold his slim congressional majority.

It would be stunning if 2024 did not end up in an encore of the nation’s most narrowly decided congressional race. Furthermore, Hurd versus Frisch would likely turn into a good old fashioned policy-centered debate; not exactly the kind of fireworks and false narratives that seem to get folks fired up in this political era. But it would be better for Colorado and our country.

Can Hurd beat Boebert next June?He probably has a better chance than I gave Frisch last September. And that might be just enough.

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