Political newcomer Lauren Boebert beats incumbent Scott Tipton in CD3 Republican primary

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Rifle restaurant owner and staunch gun rights advocate Lauren Boebert pulled off the upset of the night in Tuesday’s Colorado Primary elections, defeating five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for the party’s nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.

“Our freedom and our Constitutional rights are on the ballot this November and Republicans just sent a loud and clear message that they want me there to fight for them,” Boebert said in a statement, issued from her campaign watch party in Grand Junction.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Boebert had earned 54.5% of the vote among Republican voters throughout the sprawling 3rd Congressional District, which includes the population centers of Grand Junction, Pueblo, Montrose and Durango.

Tipton held a slight advantage over Boebert in her home county of Garfield, but it was a virtual dead heat with Tipton carrying 50.1% to Boebert’s 49.9%. Tipton held the lead among Pitkin County voters with 544 votes to Boebert’s 279 votes, as of the 9:15 p.m. update from Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

Boebert is the owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, which has become widely known for allowing its wait staff to open carry.

“I joined this race because thousands of ordinary Americans just like me are fed-up with politics as usual,” she said. “Colorado deserves a fighter who will stand up for freedom, who believes in America and who is willing to take on all the left-wing lunatics who are trying so hard to ruin our country.” 

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, Tipton’s campaign conceded the race.

“3rd District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November,” Tipton said in a statement. “I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”

Boebert will face Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 3 election. Mitsch Bush, a former Routt County commissioner and state representative from Steamboat Springs who lost to Tipton in the 2018 general election, was the winner of the Democratic primary Tuesday over businessman James Iacino of Ridgway.

“It surprises me a little, but I thought she might get a lot of traction in this race because of her base,” Mitsch Bush said of Boebert’s upset win. “I was on a panel with her once, and she really stays on message and her beliefs are very strong and she is very articulate … I look forward to discussing issues with her and facing her in the general election.”

Mitsch Bush said she will run on her record as a state legislator who was able to work across party lines.

“I run on telling the truth, and I’m always transparent,” Mitsch Bush said.

Boebert called her run for Congress “a battle for the heart and soul of our country. I’m going to win this November because freedom is a great motivator,” she said.

Boebert is also a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, who tweeted Tuesday night upon learning of her upset over Tipton, “Congratulation on a really great win.”

Last fall, Boebert traveled to Denver to confront then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke regarding his stance on gun control, saying, “Hell no, you won’t take our guns.”

Recently, during the COVID-19 shutdown in Garfield County, Boebert defied Governor Jared Polis’ public health order and re-opened Shooters Grill to in-restaurant dining under CDC safety guidelines. 

Boebert noted in her statement that she was raised in a Democrat household and became a “self-taught Republican conservative.” She has never held public office.

Covering over 52,000 square miles, Colorado’s 3rd District is one of the largest in the country, stretching from Grand Junction to Pueblo and Cortez to Steamboat Springs.

Tipton won the U.S. House seat in 2010, beating incumbent John Salazar (50.1% to 45.8%). He’s won re-election in 2012 (beating Sal Pace), 2014 (versus Abel Tapia), 2016 (beating former state Sen. Gail Schwartz) and in 2018 against Diane Mitsch Bush (51.5% to 43.6%).

Tipton becomes the fifth House incumbent to lose renomination in 2020.