Here’s how Lauren Boebert’s hometown feels about her expected landslide win slipping away

The tight battle between Rep Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch stunned even his backers. As the race teeters on a razors edge still too close to call, Sheila Flynn speaks to voters in Boebert’s divided hometown of Rifle, Colorado

Thursday 10 November 2022 14:18 GMT
Jayson Boebert puts his arms around his wife, Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, as they pray during an Election night party in Grand Junction, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022
Jayson Boebert puts his arms around his wife, Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, as they pray during an Election night party in Grand Junction, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 (AP)

A new tenant was cleaning out the space that formerly housed Lauren Boebert’s restaurant on Wednesday – the infamous Shooters sign gone – as the congresswoman continued to trail her Democratic challenger nearly 20 hours after polls closed in Colorado.

The shell of the gun-themed eatery on Rifle’s main street - after the landlord decided not to renew its lease over the summer - was a fitting parallel to the career of Shooters’ former owner.

Boebert had been projected to easily beat Adam Frisch, the former Aspen City Council member running against her, but he maintained a lead throughout Wednesday, the race too close to call.

By the evening, the tallies had levelled at 50/50.

It was a clear punch to the gut for the wider MAGA movement as well as for Boebert, who’d haughtily tweeted on Election Day: “The red wave has begun!!”

That post was followed by 36 hours of social media silence until she returned to Twitter on Thursday morning with: “Good morning! Jesus is Lord.”

By that point, Boebert stood at 64 votes behind Frisch with 99 per cent of the votes tallied.

Social media users had a field day highlighting the dichotomy between Boebert’s Tuesday Twitter swagger and the subsequent evaporation of the landslide she so publicly anticipated.

But in her constituency, voters were keeping their attention on results as they narrowed to double digits.

After dark fell in Grand Junction, Seth Anderson was still checking ballot returns on his computer at Loki, the outerwear company he co-founded. He is not a fan of Boebert.

“Most Coloradans are independent,” Anderson tells The Independent, referring to the fact that the largest bloc of voters in Boebert’s 3rd congressional district are unaffiliated, or independent. “And I fall in that camp. I lean different ways.”

One way the 48-year-old definitely leans is toward people who “act civil, because that’s why we have politics”.

Anderson adds: “The world isn’t perfect, but I don’t think [Boebert’s] way of addressing it” is the right one; he’s particularly aggrieved by her inflammatory and religious rhetoric.

Growing up in Mesa County, he says he’d always known Republicans to be compassionate and cooperative. That has changed amongst certain factions in recent years.

“I don’t hear many other people say, ‘Well, the enemy, they’re the enemy,’ except the Republicans [who] have constantly been calling their opponents ‘the enemy’ and just kind of making things up about other people. And that seems to be not true,” he says.

Anderson says most people on the Western Slope are “proud to live” in the region and “like to think that they think independently and think for themselves.”

The neck-and-neck race has certainly bolstered that independent image as the district – which covers nearly half the land mass of Colorado – bucked the expected trend.

Even those fervently hoping for a Democratic victory were caught slightly off guard.

“I did not think it was going to be close. I think I had heard that the probability was 97 per cent that [Boebert] was going to win,” says Gene Cross, who was picking his seven-year-old up from school on Wednesday when another parent told him how much the margin had narrowed.

“So even though I had donated to Adam Frisch’s campaign, it was just kind of like throwing money into a hopeless pit,” the Mesa County resident tells The Independent.

A 42-year-old registered nurse, he says that “it’s one thing to be conservative or Republican; I’ve certainly, growing up here, been accustomed to that ... [but] the whole kind of cancer of the Trump Republican party thing has been a worry.”

Walking down the street on Wednesday night as Boebert remained uncharacteristically silent, Cross resolutely said he’d love to “get her out.”

In Grand Junction, Rifle, and Silt – where Boebert’s family home is located – there were barely any political signs outside houses the day after polls closed. A lonely Frisch sign stood in the yard of a home about a block from downtown Rifle, across the street from a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and next door to a church urging people to “Vote the values of the Bible.”

Given the overwhelming anti-Boebert turnout in a heavily red district, it’s not surprising that constituents were keeping their candidate choices to themselves – particularly given Boebert’s status as one of the most extreme and outspoken MAGA acolytes around.

“I wish we weren’t so divided, politically and socially,” says Anderson, though he concedes that Western Slope residents “by and large ... day to day, we get along”.

“And I hope, once we get past this election – and maybe we’ll have a runoff – we can just calm down,” he tells The Independent. “As a business owner, I want business to do well. That’s my primary concern.

“I, frankly, don’t have a big ideological direction. I just want stability.”

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