PUEBLO, Colo. — In the heart of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, a rural region spanning much of the southwestern part of the state, some people who voted for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert two years ago said they were fed up with what seemed like her desire to grab the national spotlight over fighting for them.
The Donald Trump loyalist’s surprisingly close race against little-known Democrat and former Aspen city councilman Adam Frisch has become one of the nation’s most closely watched midterm election battles over a seat most political observers thought Boebert would win easily.
As of Friday morning, Frisch trailed Boebert by 1,122 votes in the U.S. House race. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report had rated the district as solidly Republican ahead of Tuesday’s election. Trump won the district twice, capturing 53.1% of the vote in 2016 and 52.9% four years later.
The results of the Boebert-Frisch showdown are likely to lead to a recount as control of the House hangs in the balance. Under state law, an automatic recount is required when a margin of victory in an election is less than or equal to 0.5% of the winner’s vote. Losing candidates may also request a recount at their own expense.
Apple Gibson, 69, of Pueblo County, who is registered as independent, said she usually votes Republican but not this time around.
“Her loud mouth; she’s a mini Trump. That was a turnoff,” Gibson said when asked why she switched her vote this time. Gibson said she believed Boebert wanted to create jobs at the expense of the Rocky Mountain region’s natural beauty and landscape.
Boebert could not be reached for comment Friday.
Observers said Frisch has gotten this far by running a steady campaign as a moderate Democrat who sometimes spoke out against President Joe Biden’s policies, got a head start on fundraising and took advantage of a polarizing Republican incumbent who turned some voters off.
“He was just kinda written off,” said Steve Welchert, a Colorado-based Democratic political consultant, referring to how local and national Democrats never gave Frisch much of a shot to win. “The truth is, he did this by himself.”
Boebert, who was voted into office after besting five-term incumbent Scott Tipton in the 2020 primary, has helped Frisch by being an unwavering Trump loyalist and one of Congress’ most conservative members, some said.
Early on, she promoted Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen and caused an uproar when she claimed she was legally permitted to carry a gun in the Capitol after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
Boebert has since become a volatile figure within her district, opening the door for Frisch to get close to winning the seat, political experts said.
“What she really cared about was being a television star,” Welchert said.
Frisch’s campaign staff declined to comment Friday, but on the campaign trail, he vowed to improve medical care for military veterans, protect natural resources and support abortion rights.
“I trust women and believe each woman deserves the freedom to choose what is best for her, her body, her family, and her future,” Frisch wrote on his campaign site.
His plan to remain competitive in a congressional race that includes rural Pueblo in southern Colorado and Grand Junction along the state’s western slope has worked, said Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver.
“A lot of this is about Boebert,” he said. “She’s been all about drawing a lot of attention to herself. Her style may have cost Republicans a seat that they should not be losing.”
Nicholas Donaldson, 34, of Pueblo, registered with the American Constitution Party in Colorado, said he turned on Boebert just months after she was first elected.
“She hasn’t done anything to help politics from Colorado or nationwide,” Donaldson said, adding that he thinks she has neglected the district and failed to help veterans. “She’s been acting childish and not getting anything done.”
He said he also believes her divisive speech and pushing of conspiracy theories could eventually lead to violence if she’s re-elected.
Independent voter Betty Sanders, 81, of Pueblo, said Boebert never had a chance to get her vote: “I would’ve voted for anyone who ran against her.”
Still, Boebert has a strong core of supporters and was leading Friday as the final votes were being tallied.
“It’s definitely going to be a recount situation,” said Anand Sokhey, an associate political science professor at the University of Colorado. “It’s so close and way tighter than anyone expected.”