Democratic primary candidates for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, from left, Sol Sandoval, Alex Walker and Adam Frisch, at a debate on May 25, 2022, in Grand Junction. (Photos by Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
Unseating U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Silt who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, is a strong motivator for three Democratic primary candidates who spoke at a candidate forum in Grand Junction on Wednesday.
Boebert will first have to beat her primary challenger, Don Coram, a Republican state senator and former state representative from Montrose.
“I’m running as a father, businessman, local community activist, former city council member, and to make sure Lauren Boebert doesn’t win a second term,” said Aspen businessman Adam Frisch. “She’s an embarrassment and not fighting for the people who voted her in.”
“She did not win her home county,” he added.
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The candidate forum held at Colorado Mesa University also included Sol Sandoval, a community organizer from Pueblo, and Alex Walker, who runs a tech business in Grand Junction.
Approximately 140 people attended the event.
Sandoval shared that she didn’t sleep well the night before, with the recent school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, on her mind, and concern for own children attending school.
“I’m here today as a mother, and a daughter of courageous immigrants,” Sandoval said. “I’m from a pro-union working family. I’ve worked as a social worker and community organizer” and have been trained to listen to people’s issues, she said.
Sandoval, who announced her candidacy within a month after Boebert took office, has spent the last year-and-a-half traveling around Colorado visiting with both Republicans and Democrats who are struggling to make ends meet.
“We have to work across party lines,” she said. “As an organizer, my friends throughout the district will make a difference. I’m here because know I know we can win this district. I have $800,000 from voters in the district — that demonstrates my grassroots campaign.”
Walker, expressed anger at the Democratic Party for being too “polite” and occasionally used expletives as he conveyed his frustration with Democrats playing too nice.
“I’m running for my survival,” Walker said. “Since Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump were elected I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been called a (slur for ‘gay’). They’ve emboldened a hateful streak in people. I’m here to work like hell for my survival. And for a future of clean jobs, real wages, basic human rights and accessible health care. We need people to stand up to Lauren Boebert.”
After mentioning “the two horrific acts in the past two weeks,” the forum moderator asked each candidate if they would support a ban on assault rifles. On May 14, a man killed 10 people in a Buffalo, N.Y. supermarket in an apparent racist attack.
The Second Amendment topic comes up a lot during his visits with people in the district, and there needs to be a respect for gun ownership, Frisch said. He said he’s not sure what the answer is to stopping America’s all-too-common mass shootings but that certain people should be restricted from accessing firearms.
Sandoval said she’s a gun owner and recognizes the importance of the Second Amendment for rural Coloradans. However, “there are practical things we can support in the bill in the Senate that addresses background checks,” she added.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act would expand federal background checks required for gun purchases and ensure that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis would not be able to access guns, she said.
Walker said he would close the loophole for background checks, ban assault rifles, and send to prison people who bring guns to schools.
Candidates were also asked if they’ve considered the fate of oil and gas, as well as coal industry workers as Colorado moves toward achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040.
Walker responded that there’s a demand for clean energy and that people will actually earn more money in the renewable energy industry.
“Embracing clean technology is an incredible opportunity for Colorado’s future,” he said.
Sandoval, who mentioned growing up in poverty and is sympathetic to people’s fears about job losses, said she would support the training needed to transition away from fossil fuel development and into renewable energy.
Frisch said a lot of people working in the fossil fuel industry are aware of changes in weather, implying that workers are aware that the future will require learning new skills.
When asked about current federal legislation that would protect employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace, Frisch agreed that there must be protections for wages and benefits and that he would not stand in the way of workers who want to organize.
Sandoval contended that an entire region improves when there’s a union employer in the area.
“Pueblo is a union town,” she said. “Everyone’s lives improve. I know the importance of collective power and standing up to corporations.”
Candidates were also asked how they would protect Colorado during an era of unprecedented wildfires. Walker said he would protect Colorado with carbon tax incentives and reforestation. He also emphasized the importance of renegotiating the Colorado River Compact guidelines for sharing water with downstream users.
Sandoval mentioned the need for conserving water and protecting the water that originates in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, while Frisch added that Coloradans should not turn down funding that would help states deal with forest fires — a reference to Boebert, who voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act.
Frisch said Democrats have a unique opportunity to beat Boebert if she wins the primary but that Democrats must build a coalition that includes unaffiliated voters.
“It would be a shame if this district blows this opportunity,” he said. “Lauren Boebert is more vulnerable than people realize.”
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