The ink is barely dry from the 2020 election and already three Democrats are aiming for Lauren Boebert’s seat in Colorado’s Third Congressional District. Rumor has it we’ll see more soon.
As of Feb. 4 the lineup includes Gregg Smith, a Westcliffe rancher; Colin Wilhelm, a criminal defense attorney from Glenwood Springs; and Colo. District 5 Sen. Kerry Donovan of Eagle County. Donovan’s seven-county district includes Chaffee.
Political observers say it’s a tad early for the queue to be forming and that perhaps Boebert has made an opening where Democrats are more willing to jump in this time around; the 29-county District 3 typically leans Republican.
There’s also the matter of redistricting, what the new lines will be and how that plays out for either party. Colorado plans to redraw boundaries prior to the 2022 election.
Boebert did not enter Washington’s scene quietly, testing her brand as a gun-packing populist, the provocateur with little fear of Capitol Hill conventions. Labeled by critics as a lesser version of newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who on Thursday was removed by the House from her two committee appointments, Boebert has still managed to maintain residence in Democrats’ craw. That’s partly from her explosive Twitter posts prior to the Jan. 6 riot and break-in at the Capitol, and more recently, for joining Greene in a Twitter spar with Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor and gun-control activist David Hogg.
It didn’t take long for elected officials from District 3 to send their thoughts to Washington. In a Jan. 12 letter to House leaders, a group of 68 county commissioners, city and town council members and others from places such as Lake City, Telluride, Leadville and Eagle County condemned Boebert’s “association with the right wing groups that supported the insurrection of the Capitol Building.”
The group sought an investigation and “any appropriate disciplinary actions.”
“Our bigger concern is that hate groups are proliferating in America and they are heavily armed,” the letter continued. “We request that you create a Congressional panel to thoroughly investigate these groups. They pose a real threat to American democracy, to our communities and to our residents. We are all deeply disturbed by the events that unfolded on Wednesday (Jan. 6) and we urge the appropriate legal and congressional responses against the individuals and groups involved to prevent similar actions in the future.”
Boebert’s hot-button tendencies are central to the challengers’ campaigns so far.
“Many people are asking who is the Democrat running against Lauren Boebert,” Gregg Smith posted on Twitter Feb. 2. “That is me. I am a Marine and I am standing in for another mission to defeat a terrorist sympathizer.”
Smith holds an MBA and is the former CEO of Frontier Services Group, (FSG), a “pan-African logistics business,” according to his website. By now, most who are familiar with Smith also know of Frontier’s connections with Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who was named chairman of the business.
Smith seeks considerable distance from Prince, who is also brother to former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“While Gregg had always been cautious about Erik Prince, things went wrong in 2015,” according to Smith’s campaign site. “Gregg blew the whistle on Prince after he discovered that Prince was turning FSG surveillance aircraft into combat aircraft without the company’s knowledge.”
Colin Wilhelm announced his run for Congress Jan. 25. He ran unsuccessfully in 2020 and 2018 for the District 57 Colorado House race and made the decision to run for Congress after Boebert won the election.
Donovan, who has served in the Colorado Senate since 2015 and who is now Colorado Senate President Pro Tempore, made her announcement to seek Boebert’s Congressional seat Feb. 3. The Vail native comes from a pedigree of public service; she and her parents all served on Vail Town Council. She positions herself as a “rancher, educator and state senator.”
“The last thing we need are people in Congress who talk tough and stoke division and fear,” she said in her launch video.
Additionally, she tweeted, “We need a Congresswoman who understands that real toughness isn’t what you wear on your hip. Real toughness is what you get done for other people.”