Incumbent advantage isn't always a sure thing in Colorado politics

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Posted at 6:46 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 20:52:33-04

DENVER — There’s something to be said about being the incumbent, something about having a political record to stand on or funding to run a campaign that makes it easier to be reelected.

None of that, however, means the incumbent is unbeatable in Colorado. Case and point: Lauren Boebert.

The political newcomer was virtually unknown in 2020 when she was able to defeat Congressman Scott Tipton, who had held the seat for 10 years prior to Boebert.

Republican Congresswoman Boebert is now the incumbent and facing her first election as such and her first primary challenge.

The challenger is state Sen. Don Corum, a Republican from Montrose who works in ranching and mining. Corum’s campaign told Newsweek in a statement that Boebert is more interested in being, "a right-wing celebrity pundit rather than a representative of the people she is paid to represent."

Corum has said on his website he wants to prioritize policy over politics, saying rhetoric doesn’t get results.

Boebert fired back at him in a statement, saying, “He is a self-serving, super-woke social liberal who would have a far better chance of winning the Democrat nomination.”

However, Boebert is not the only incumbent facing a primary challenger. Congressman Doug Lamborn is facing three challengers: Navy veteran Rebecca Keltie, telecommunications CEO Andrew Heaton and state Rep. Dave Williams.

Keltie prides herself on not being a politician. She served in the Navy for 21 years and is a mother of two. She ran during the last election cycle as a third-party candidate against Lamborn with the Unity party.

Heaton is a first-time candidate, the CEO of the telecommunications company, Tekniam, and the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary and lab.

Williams is a three-term state lawmaker who has been a vocal critic of the 2020 election results. He unsuccessfully tried to have his name appear on the ballot as Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams. He is a manufacturing executive who is one of the most conservative voices in the state legislature.

Congressman Ken Buck is also facing a primary challenger in real estate broker Bob Lewis. Lewis describes himself as a conservative constitutionalist. He served on the Elbert County Republican Central Committee and served as the county’s Republican vice-chairman from 2015-2020. He is also a real estate broker.

On the Democratic side, Congresswoman Diana DeGette is facing a primary challenger as well in Neal Walia.

Walia is a first-generation American who considers himself a progressive Democrat. He is the son of Indian immigrants who worked on Capitol Hill for years. He says he was inspired to run because he is facing many of the same challenges as people in district 1 with affordability.

“I can't afford to buy a home in the city that I love. The cost of childcare is something that actively delays my wife and I's ability to begin our own family,” Walia said. “I think our communities deserve to have a representative who lives the struggles of their constituents.”

Walia says DeGette has had 26 years to try to make a difference but now it’s time for someone else to give it a shot.

However, all of the incumbents have outraised their primary opponents. For some, they’ve outraised the newcomers by hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the case of Buck and Boebert, they’ve outraised their political opponents by millions.

But if there’s anything Boebert herself proved, it’s that incumbents are not primary-proof, so Tuesday’s election could result in a political shakeup depending on the voters.