Rep. Lauren Boebert won by just 546 votes last year. She does not change her habits.

WASHINGTON — Far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert scored the narrowest of victories in Republican-friendly territory last fall, beating Democrat Adam Frisch by just 546 votes and stunning political watchers who hadn’t had the sleepy race of Colorado on their radar.

Frisch is now seeking revenge — and Boebert, a conservative arsonist and culture warrior, did not moderate her policy stances or tone down her rhetoric during her second term on Capitol Hill. Instead, Boebert made national headlines for taking on President Joe Biden — and his own GOP leadership.

In January, she and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., nearly derailed GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become president in a dramatic standoff on the House floor. She accidentally missed the biggest vote of the year – a vote to raise the debt ceiling she had opposed. Last month, she infuriated GOP leaders and colleagues by trying to force a floor vote on impeaching President Joe Biden on border issues before House investigations into him were completed.

Now she is fighting government funding and military policy bills, demanding they include right-wing policies to win her vote.

“A lot of Republicans were taken aback by her,” said Dick Wadhams, the former Colorado Republican Party chairman from 2007 to 2011. “She didn’t change her style of operation, either substantially or simply general.”

A House GOP lawmaker who knows Boebert well offered this advice: “His ass needs to come home to go campaign. Cutting ribbons, going to bar mitzvahs and taking credit for things she has absolutely nothing to do with.

In a part of Colorado that leans toward conservatives but is used to electing Republicans and no-nonsense Democrats who tend to focus on local issues like water, natural resources and agriculture, Boebert stands out from the crowd. wrong way with a segment of voters, Wadhams said.

“The perception, whether fair or not, is that Congresswoman Boebert has paid more attention to fighting these battles within the Republican Party than she has paid attention to the district,” the statement said. former Colorado GOP leader. “Now I’m sure his office would refute that. The problem is that it’s obscured by the way she conducts herself. And that’s what she’s fighting right now.

Asked if she plans to change her approach this cycle, Boebert blamed her close call in 2022 on “ballot harvesting” — a GOP term for third-party collection of mail-in ballots. — rather than what Democrats have called her “MAGA extremism” and political charades.

“We need to get voter turnout. I think all Republicans need to focus on harvesting ballots where it’s legal in Colorado. And, I mean, that’s something we have to be careful of or we’re going to continue to be in the mess we’re in,” Boebert said in an interview as she walked down the steps of the Capitol. “Democrats chase ballots while we chase voters. And so, I mean, we have to get in the game.”

But Boebert also said she’s focused on “delivery” for Colorado’s sprawling 3rd District, which includes rural areas, the cities of Grand Junction and Pueblo, and affluent ski resorts around Aspen. Although she didn’t provide details — and her office didn’t respond to a request for comment — some recent press releases have focused on local issues, like her water bill that won a hearing, his bill to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list of the committee and the securing of a $5 million grant for a rural health center in a program expenditure against which she voted.

“At the previous Congress, I wasn’t able to do that much because we were in the minority,” she said. “And we have a wonderful advantage of having this majority where I can actually get wins for my district.”

Once the owner of the gun-themed Shooters Grill restaurant, Boebert, 36, has amassed millions of social media followers and a significant platform outside of Congress on conservative podcasts and TV shows, as well than at political conventions.

Democrats, and even some Republicans, say his growing national profile has overshadowed any supposed local victory. Boebert recently made headlines after another conservative hero, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, called her colleague a “little b—-” on the House floor – an altercation that led to Greene’s ousting from the far-right Freedom Caucus. While Greene has now aligned herself with McCarthy, Boebert remains a thorn in her side.

“People want the circus to stop,” Frisch said, accusing Boebert of going on “all kinds of wild goose hunts and causing all kinds of drama” that doesn’t matter to the district. “She’s one of those people who still likes to go on Twitter and the cable news networks and shout and shout.”

“She’s not focused on the district, she’s focused on herself,” he said. “And we’re going to hammer her on it.”

Democratic candidate for Colorado's third congressional district Adam Frisch during an appearance on the University of Colorado-Pueblo campus Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Pueblo, Colo. (David Zalubowski/AP file)

Democratic candidate for Colorado’s third congressional district Adam Frisch during an appearance on the University of Colorado-Pueblo campus Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Pueblo, Colo. (David Zalubowski/AP file)

In a phone interview, Frisch said he only needed “two more weeks on just gas station money” to win the 2022 race. Now, he says, he will have the time and resources needed to close the deal. Frisch raised $2.6 million versus Boebert’s roughly $818,000 in the second quarter; he said he had $2.5 million in cash compared to Boebert’s $1.4 million, according to campaign reports.

“She doesn’t seem to take the job any more seriously than before. And again, that’s bad for the district and bad for the country,” Frisch said.

He promised that if elected, he would focus on local issues such as water, rural health care, rural education, agriculture, livestock and natural resources.

But the Democrat still faces a tough climb in the Republican-friendly quarter, which former President Donald Trump lifted by 8 percentage points in 2020, according to data tracked by Daily Kos.

But Frisch, 55, said the 2022 result shows he is appealing to nominal Republicans, including Trump voters, calling himself a “very conservative Democrat running against an extremist.” He wants to join the Centrist Problem Solvers Caucus and be one of the five most bipartisan members of Congress. He said he disagreed with his party on energy policy, seeing a bigger role for oil and gas alongside clean energy (although he said he would have voted for the Inflation Reduction Act). And he wouldn’t say whether he supports Biden’s bid for re-election in 2024.

“I share the majority people’s concern that it’s a little disappointing to end up with some sort of 2020 overhaul,” he said. “I’m laser focused on what’s going on in CD-3.”

The Republican National Congressional Committee, however, is eager to portray Frisch, an Aspen City Councilman, as too liberal for the district.

“Adam Frisch is a liberal hack traveling the district spreading lies like a snake oil salesman. The Coloradans see right through his act,” said NRCC regional press secretary Delanie Bomar.

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., a Frisch supporter this cycle and last, acknowledged that Boebert — with millions of social media followers on the right — can raise campaign funds on things like his campaign to impeachment of Biden. But he pointed out that Boebert voted against Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which is expected to provide billions of dollars in funding for the Centennial State and will be a focus of Democratic campaigns next year.

“There are those who can monetize extremism, monetize self-serving politics. And it might do that to some extent, but it doesn’t get you far when you literally don’t submit funding requests for roads, bridges and water infrastructure,” Crow said. “You can only hide this for so long. And clearly the last cycle, the template was up. The template is even higher now.

Democrats will put a bounty on ousting Boebert from Congress, Wadhams warned, which could force the national GOP to spend money to step in and save her.

“She’s become kind of a national symbol of what they want to beat,” Wadhams said. “It’s just going to be a stunning, extended fight between these two. It’s not going to be pretty. And it’s going to go down to the wire.”

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