Democrat Adam Frisch, left, and Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, right, are running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat. (William Woody for Colorado Newsline)
After almost all remaining ballots were processed in the undecided Colorado 3rd Congressional District race, the tally showed Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert ahead of Democratic challenger Adam Frisch by 551 votes.
That meets the threshold for an automatic recount. It’s also well beyond the margin at which a recount would be expected to alter the outcome of the race.
“We’re certainly disappointed,” Mary Beth Corsentino, who chairs the local Democratic Party in Pueblo, the 3rd District’s most populous county, said Thursday night. “But I’m going to remain optimistic.”
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Shortly after polls closed for the midterm election Nov. 8, Frisch was slightly ahead in a race that, after redistricting last year, favored Republicans by 9 percentage points. In subsequent days, as clerks’ offices in the district’s 27 counties continued to count ballots — including from military and overseas voters and those that were “cured” after initially being rejected for missing or discrepant signatures — Boebert had 163,758 votes and Frisch had 163,207 votes, according to the 8:25 p.m. update from the Colorado secretary of state Thursday night.
Colorado law requires an automatic, state-funded recount if the apparent winner is ahead by a number of votes that is equal to or less than 0.5% of their vote total. At current vote totals, the recount threshold is 819 votes — which the race meets by almost 270 votes.
There were only about 200 ballots left to be counted in the district, The Colorado Sun reported Thursday before the 8:25 p.m. update. That means that if every single remaining ballot were for Frisch he still would not overtake Boebert, and if every single one were for Boebert a recount still would not be avoided.
“We have won this race,” Boebert announced in a video she tweeted Thursday night.
I think overall, people were just tired of the whole Trump thing.
– Mesa County GOP chair Kevin McCarney
Kevin McCarney, chair of the GOP in Mesa County, the second-most populous county in the 3rd District, said that given his unlikelihood of success at this point, Frisch should decline to advance to a recount.
“I would hope that Adam would, for the sake of the taxpayer, at least say, ‘You know, we tried, couldn’t do it,” McCarney said. “I don’t think he will.”
A Frisch spokesperson did not reply to a message seeking comment.
Recounts rarely alter election outcomes, a circumstance that was documented in a report released this year by Fair Vote, a group that advocates for ranked-choice voting and other election reforms. After she lost the June primary for Colorado secretary of state, Republican Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk and recorder, initiated a candidate-funded recount, which did not reverse her loss and earned her just 13 net votes.
Whatever Frisch’s electoral prospects at this point, he’s already defied expectations in a race that most observers assumed the far-right Boebert would handily win.
McCarney attributed the race’s surprise competitiveness to several factors, including the adverse influence of Peters, an election denier facing felony charges over her alleged role in a security breach in her own elections office, and former President Donald Trump.
“According to what I’d heard, he actually said he would come out and have a rally for (Boebert), and he ended up not doing it,” McCarney said. “And then I think overall, people were just tired of the whole Trump thing. And so her campaign mirrored a little bit what Trump has done, and I think that hurt a little bit.”
McCarney also said the endorsement by Republican state Sen. Don Coram, who challenged Boebert in the Republican primary, for Frisch curbed Boebert’s advantage. And he said Republican polling misled the party into believing it would perform better in Colorado than it did.
“I think our polls really failed us badly,” he said.
Corsentino said Frisch’s message resonated with voters.
“Nobody ever expected us, after redistricting and all of that, to ever get to this point, so I think we’ve got a lot to be proud of,” she said. “He had a message that appealed to the unaffiliated voters, and moderate to conservative Democrats, which most of Pueblo is.”
Secretary of State Jena Griswold has until Dec. 5 to officially order a statutory recount.
The 3rd District encompasses the Western Slope and the southwest corner of the state, sweeping east to include Pueblo, Otero and Las Animas counties.
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