Rep. Scott Tipton, a five-term incumbent from Colorado who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, lost in Tuesday’s Republican primary to a restaurant owner and outspoken gun rights activist who ran to the right of Tipton and questioned his commitment to the president’s agenda.
Lauren Boebert’s campaign site describes her as an “avid supporter of President Trump and his policies to Make America Great Again” who “believes in personal freedom, citizen rights, and upholding the Constitution of the United States.” Often photographed with a holstered pistol at her side, Boebert is the owner of Shooter’s Grill in Rifle, Colorado, where the staff “proudly open carry as they serve their customers.”
“Victory! I can’t thank you enough for all of your support. We are going to take our fight for freedom to the Democrats and then we are going to take it to D.C. I will always fight for you!” Boebert said on her Facebook page after pulling off her upset.
Tipton conceded in an email sent by his longtime campaign consultant Michael Fortney.
“(Third) District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November,” Tipton wrote. “I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”
Trump tweeted his support for Tipton the night before the election.
“Congressman @ScottRTipton is a great supporter of the #MAGA Agenda! He fights for your #2A rights and the Border Wall. Scott is working hard for Colorado and has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #CO03,” Trump wrote, repeating the exact language he used in a tweet to endorse Tipton in December.
“Congratulations on a really great win!” Trump told Boebert in a tweet after she defeated Tipton by nearly 10 percentage points.
Boebert was featured in national news segments about her restaurant and its open carry policy for staff as far back as 2014.
In September 2019, she confronted then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during a stop last year in the Denver suburb of Aurora about his desire to confiscate semiautomatic rifles. “Hell no,” she told him, “you won’t take our guns.” That incident led to an appearance on Fox News.
Boebert arose as a critic of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ lockdown measures requiring businesses to temporarily shutter to slow the spread of the coronavirus. She reopened Shooters Grill in defiance of Polis’ orders.
In addition to her passion for gun rights, she supports the construction of a border wall, opposes immigration “amnesty,” wants to eliminate the Department of Education and says she won’t support any federal budget that results in additional debt.
In an op-ed for The Aspen Times, Boebert accused Tipton of capitulating to Democrats and said in “Tipton’s 10 years in Congress he has shown a consistent instinct to run from core conservative positions.”
“A sober look at the Tipton Record shows a back-burner representative that has failed to live up to his conservative chops that he touted on his Tea Party-inspired campaign trail. If his record lived up to his campaign rhetoric, I wouldn’t feel so compelled to run,” she wrote.
This year, Boebert said she was “very familiar” with the QAnon far-right conspiracy theory, but she stopped short of saying she was a follower.
QAnon followers say Trump is fighting enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. The QAnon name comes from online clues purportedly posted by a high-ranking government official known as “Q.”
“Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values,” she told interviewer Ann Vandersteel.
Boebert, who has never held public office, will run in November’s general election against Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state lawmaker who won the Democratic nomination Tuesday by defeating businessman James Iacino. Tipton defeated Mitsch Bush by 8 percentage points in the 2018 election to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses a swath of southern and western Colorado.
Before Boebert’s win, The Cook Political Report categorized the district as “solid Republican” while the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics saw it as slightly more competitive and listed it as “likely Republican.” The Denver Post said Tipton’s defeat “is likely to upend the political dynamics for the fall race.”
Contributing: The Associated Press