CD3 voter reviews a mixed bag on Rep. Lauren Boebert’s start
Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting voters throughout Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Through the month of May, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Craig Press and Vail Daily will be running stories highlighting Democratic and Republican voters in each community. This week voters in Garfield County are featured.
Colorado Mesa University political science professor Justin Gollop said never before in his tenure has he fielded so many calls about a local politician.
“I’ve never received as many questions about the Colorado 3rd (District) and the representative as I have,” Gollop said. “It’s been an interesting spotlight on the CD3.”
Normally, this voting district is known for its world-class ski resorts, breathtaking open spaces and cattle ranches. In 2020, its voters elected someone who’s turning out to be one of the most controversial politicians in modern Centennial State history: Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado.
So Steamboat Pilot & Today recently teamed up with its sister newspapers at Colorado Mountain News Media and other regional news partners to learn more about the voters in CD3, why they voted the way they did and their thoughts on Boebert’s first few months in Congress.
Through the month of May, the Pilot & Today will be publishing Republican and Democrat voter profiles from throughout the district.
Since upsetting incumbent Scott Tipton in the GOP primary and defeating Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch Bush in the general election, Boebert has consistently made national and global headlines.
Driving Boebert’s performance so far as a freshman congressperson are the CD3 voters themselves. The district, one of the largest in the country, encompasses nearly 30 counties and cast almost 430,000 total votes in the 2020 general election.
The voter landscape is so vast, in fact, that some are calling for plans to dismantle and redistrict CD3.
“It’s a toss of a coin,” Gollop said of a possible redistricting. “A lot of proposals are ruling Pueblo out of the CD3, but at this point, your guess is as good as mine.”
• 220,634 CD3 constituents voted Republican (51.4% of those voted)
• 194,122 voted Democratic (45.2% of those voted)
• 14,563 voted for other parties (3.4% of those voted)
• 84,384 registered voters who opted not to vote in the CD3 race
• 133,599 total registered (active, inactive and preregistered) who did not vote in CD3 race
CD3’s expansive political landscape, however, still makes for broad differences among voters.
“Well, one of the biggest predictors of voting is your partisanship, and (Boebert) clearly falls into this model of supporters and her opponents,” Gollop said. “Republicans generally hold a higher opinion of her performance. Democrats? They’re certainly not as favorable.”
For now, the numbers favor Boebert.
Just like how former President Donald Trump won back in 2016, Gollop said Boebert won the Republican ticket based on the promise she’s not a typical Capitol Hill politician. She’d win CD3 by a margin of 26,512.
“I would say they appreciate her ability to buck convention, to challenge the status quo, to tell it like it is, to push issues that they feel have not really had a strong spokesperson for,” he said of Boebert’s CD3 supporters. “She’s shining a light on the challenges that people in especially rural areas are facing.”
Issues range anywhere from gun rights, environmental regulations and rural development.
Those in CD3 who don’t support Boebert, meanwhile, see it quite differently.
“Her opponents, they are going to argue that she is a disrupter but not necessarily in a good way,” Gollop said. “She’s an obstructionist rather than someone who can produce policy. … She’s going to get in the way instead of making things happen.”
But when it comes to Boebert’s goal to retain her Congressional seat in 2022, Bollop said, “The numbers are there.”
“A lot of this comes down to the challenger,” he said. “Is she going to see a challenger from the Republicans, and if so, will it be a more moderate Republican? Assuming she works through the primary in terms of Democratic candidates, what does that look like? There’s just so many questions.”
Garfield County evangelical likes Boebert challenging Congressional leadership
Rifle City Council member Ed Green, a staunch conservative and evangelical Christian, is impressed so far by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s ability to challenge what he considers the status quo.
“I think that she’s one of the few conservatives in Congress that has had the guts to challenge the progressive and socialist leadership in Congress,” he said. “Like her, I am an evangelical Christian, I’m a veteran, I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment, I’m a supporter, of course, of religious freedom, freedom of speech, and I think those are the cornerstones of her beliefs and what she’s trying to protect in Congress.”
Now in his second term on the Rifle City Council, Green has worked many years in the energy sector, at one point working for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He also has worked at Rocky Flats nuclear energy facility in Denver and later, became a materials manager for Hughes Aircraft Co.’s interspace and communications division. He also manage a cleanup project for a nuclear facility in Ohio before becoming the manager of Garfield County for 13 years.
Prior to coming back to Colorado, he ended his full-time career as city manager of North Palm Beach, Florida. Green also served in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1977.
Green said he definitely plans to vote Republican in 2022. Part of the reason is based on a trip he made to a Club 20 meeting in Grand Junction, where Boebert, R-Colorado, gave a speech in early April.
“She has a very relaxed delivery approach,” he said. “She gets in front of the podium and basically talks to the crowd, and I think that’s pretty compelling. And I think she also talks to the fact of our historical traditions and our values that emanate from those historical traditions, and now, she wants to protect them.”
When it comes to the current state of national politics, however, Green said the nation is “hopelessly divided and polarized.”
“You don’t see very many moderates in the world anymore. You either have to be a conservative or progressive,” he said. “There is no middle ground in America anymore. There is no room for compromise anymore. I think that, unfortunately, progressives and their socialist friends really encourage that because socialists like to divide the population into groups and take control through the country through that, and you’ve seen that.”
Left-leaning voter encourages Rep. Lauren Boebert to focus on what matters
Political theatrics aren’t exactly what Martha Cochran likes to see when it comes to Rep. Lauren Boebert’s first few months in office, she said.
The 67-year-old Glenwood Springs resident, who’s lived in Garfield County — just one of many Western Slope counties that make up the 3rd Congressional District — for the past 46 years, considers the political inclinations of Boebert to be anything but laudable.
“I would say horrified is the most succinct way to put it,” she said. “It’s so unfortunate that we wasted an important seat on what I think is political theater, where there’s no substance at all. It’s such an immature vision of what you think a congressperson should be.”
So far, Boebert’s congressional tenure has included opposing new gun control regulations, Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act. Instead, Cochran wants to see Boebert refocus her attention on other issues.
“There’s a lot of important things,” she said. “Climate, any type of gun reform, some of the social justice issues, immigration reform, health care, protection of public lands … all the things that are foremost challenging to our country and what it means to western Coloradans in terms of water and climate for the future here.”
Cochran is the retired executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust and a former newspaper publisher. She now works with Space for Giants, an international conservation organization dedicated to habitat production in Africa, and spends her Tuesdays volunteering for the Frontier Historical Museum in Glenwood Springs.
She said she’s voted both Democratic and Republican the majority of election cycles and is open to crossing party lines.
But in 2022, Cochran said her vote won’t likely be cast for the 34-year-old freshman representative.
Despite her distaste for Boebert’s political leanings, Cochran said she’s still hopeful about the bigger picture of politics.
“I feel like there is, as opposed to the last four years, where there’s this chaos and lying and kind of tearing down what’s best about America, we’re trying to deal with real issues and having honest policy discussions about what’s the best way to address those, whether its immigration or social change or economic inequality,” she said. “All of those long-term big deals that are gonna affect the future of the states and the world really.
“I’m more hopeful than I have been in a long time,” she added. “But they’re hard problems.”
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