While the main contest in Tuesday’s election was that between Colorado Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate — former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper beat former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff — the primary ballot contained several other significant races.
In the 3rd congressional district — which encompasses Colorado’s Western Slope, plus Pueblo County — five-term Republican Rep. Scott Tipton met his match in an outspoken primary challenger, restaurant owner Lauren Boebert.
I can't thank you enough for all of your support.
We are going to take our fight for freedom to the Democrats and then we are going to take it to D.C.
I will always fight for you! https://t.co/MFvtn42egl
— Lauren Boebert for Congress (R-CO3) (@laurenboebert) July 1, 2020
Boebert, who according to unofficial results beat Tipton by 9 points, accused Tipton of being too cooperative with Democrats in Congress and has repeatedly called him a “RINO” (“Republican In Name Only”) who doesn’t align with the limited-government, anti-immigration and pro-God platform that she believes President Donald Trump’s followers support.
Boebert publicly expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory while appearing on an online talk show, NBC News has reported.
Trump won Tipton’s district by 12 points in 2016, but it’s considered the state’s most vulnerable Republican district.
Mitsch Bush ran against Tipton as the Democratic nominee in 2018, losing by 8 points. She served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017 and as a Routt County commissioner during the five years prior to that.
Leading up to November, this race will be one to watch — especially given that Boebert, a far-right candidate who refused a state health order to close her restaurant’s dining room, will be facing Mitsch Bush, the Democratic primary candidate viewed as more progressive.
In the primary, Mitsch Bush trounced entrepreneur James Iacino — unofficial results had her ahead 22 points — though Iacino had narrowly triumphed over Mitsch Bush at the 3rd congressional district assembly.
The two candidates had similar platforms, but Mitsch Bush expressed support for a universal, single-payer health care system while Iacino, the owner and CEO of Denver-based seafood wholesaler Seattle Fish Company, supported a public option but said voters should be able to keep their private insurance if they wished.
Voters choose the moderate
In a closely watched Republican state House primary in Jefferson County, state Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton emerged victorious over Justin Everett, who held the 22nd District seat for six years prior to Larson before he unsuccessfully ran for state treasurer in 2018.
Everett had billed himself as the true conservative candidate in the primary race, suggesting Larson was lukewarm on issues such as Second Amendment rights and abortion.
However, in a contrast to the Tipton-Boebert match-up, South Jefferson County voters chose the more moderate candidate by 12 percentage points.
Kirkmeyer supported by Republican establishment
Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer defeated small business owner Rupert Parchment to claim the GOP nomination in State Senate District 23, a conservative-leaning district that encompasses Windsor, Firestone and Broomfield.
Kirkmeyer’s supporters included business leaders and members of Colorado’s Republican establishment. Weld Strong, a super PAC whose donors included Rockies owner Dick Monfort and former Greeley mayor Tom Norton, spent at least $27,000 on advertising and direct mail in support of her campaign, state records show.
Parchment won endorsements from activists on the party’s right wing, including controversial gun-rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, and state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.
Conservatives win in Weld County
Conservative State Rep. Perry Buck overcame opposition from Weld Strong to claim the Republican nomination for an at-large seat on the Weld County Commission, defeating insurance agent and former Eaton mayor Kevin Ross, who had been appointed to the seat following a vacancy earlier this year.
Another soon-to-be-former member of the state legislature, Rep. Lori Saine, appears to have narrowly defeated Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton for the Republican nomination for Weld County Commissioner District 3, leading by just 27 votes out of more than 10,000 ballots cast, according to unofficial results. Like Buck, Saine was backed by Neville and right-wing groups like RMGO, while Holton, a rancher and former member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, received support from Weld Strong.
Senator blocked from running for House seat
Longtime state Sen. Vicki Marble fell short in her attempt to jump over to the House.
The Fort Collins Republican, who represents the 23rd Senate District, lost her primary run in the 49th House District against small business owner Mike Lynch.
Lynch has not held elective office. Among the relevant experience the Colorado native touted was his service in the U.S. Army and as a member of the board of directors of the Larimer County Republican Party.