FORT LUPTON, Colo. — Nine Republican candidates vying for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District seat, including Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, took the stage Thursday night for a raucous debate.
Boebert and nearly a dozen other candidates hope to replace retiring Republican Congressman Ken Buck, representing a district that includes Douglas County and eastern Colorado.
Boebert, who currently represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, announced last month she was switching districts to give herself and her boys a fresh start.
“This move is the right move for me and for them,” Boebert said. “I’m really proud as a mom I have the ability to do that and to continue to fight for Colorado and fight for our country.”
Some of the other candidates have called Boebert a carpetbagger and accused her of caring more about holding on to a cushy job in Congress than working on issues that are important to voters.
“I think it's a vanity play by a Congresswoman who got mesmerized by the bright lights of Washington D.C. and the media that she got,” former state Sen. Ted Harvey, one of the candidates running for the seat, said.
At Thursday’s debate, which was hosted by the Republican Women of Weld County, Boebert responded to the criticism.
“I have been in counties all throughout the 4th district just in the past few weeks,” Boebert said. “My residence was not the focus of the voters. They are getting crushed by Bidenomics. They hate what is happening at the southern border. I have law enforcement officers and sheriffs who are beside themselves with the crime and fentanyl that is flowing into our state. They are asking me what I'm doing about these issues and also thanking me for the work that I am currently doing on these issues.”
At Thursday’s debate, Boebert announced that she’s now an official resident of Weld County.
The candidates took turns brandishing their conservative credentials, on issues ranging from immigration to the economy.
“I would argue that ‘Bidenomics’ has been our biggest issue and part of that is caused by the border,” former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.
The candidates were asked if the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
“There was election interference for sure,” Boebert said.
Despite those claims, neither Trump nor his supporters have been able to provide legitimate evidence showing the election was stolen in court.
All of the candidates said they planned to vote for Trump in the state’s presidential primary in March.
One of the most memorable moments occurred when the debate moderator asked if the candidates had ever been arrested.
Six of the nine candidates raised their hands, including Boebert and state Rep. Mike Lynch.
Lynch stepped down this week as the minority leader in the Colorado House of Representatives after news of his September 2022 surfaced last week.
While much of the media attention was on Boebert throughout the night, it was clear that she was not the favorite candidate for the crowd in the room.
Boebert placed fifth in a straw poll of Republicans who attended the debate.
Sonnenberg won the straw poll, followed by Lynch in second place and Deborah Flora in third.
“It’s an honor to have been selected, to have won it," Sonnenberg said. "But quite honestly, the real race is in June."
When asked his thoughts on Boebert, Sonnenberg said he welcomed her to the race and looked forward to representing her in Congress.
State Rep. Richard Holtorf finished fourth in the straw poll, just ahead of Boebert.
“I think Congresswoman Boebert has made a very big misstep in her decision to jump from CD3 to CD4,” Holtorf said. “The eastern Colorado electorate is going to show her that, despite everything she says and does.”
The debate featuring Boebert was the second of the night.
An earlier debate featured Republican candidates for Colorado’s 8th Congressional District (CD8).
State Rep. Gabe Evans, who represents parts of Adam and Weld Counties in the Colorado House, won the CD8 straw poll.
“It shows that the message we’re carrying is resonating with folks,” Evans, an Army veteran and former law enforcement officer, said.
Evans said the cost of living, crime and education were the top issues on the minds of voters he's been talking to around the district.
“They trust me to continue the fight that I've done in military and law enforcement and state legislature, to take that to Congress and deliver the results that they're looking for to make their day-to-day lives better.”
The Republican nominee in CD8 will face Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo in the fall.
Colorado’s Republican primary will be held June 25.