Rep. Lauren Boebert wins GOP primary after switching Colorado districts; Hurd, Crank also notch wins

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado has won the Republican primary in a House race she jumped into last year after switching districts
U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won Tuesday's Republican primary in a U.S. House race that she jumped into last year, surviving a scandal over a video of her at a Denver theater and accusations of carpetbagging after fleeing what could have been a tough reelection bid in her current district.

Boebert’s resounding win over four other candidates in the new district across the state from where she lived before showcased her political cachet among Republicans and positions her for a likely easy win in the November general election. It was also a victory for the far-right flank of the House GOP, a group that takes no prisoners, makes no concessions and stays on the attack.

Taking the stage at her election night victory party, Boebert wore a pair of reflective gold sneakers sold by former President Donald Trump and a white “Make America Great Again” hat with his signature across the bill.

“America will rise again, and I am so excited that you all are here to be a part of it with me,” Boebert said to applause.

Boebert responded to questions about her switch to the 4th District by saying, “While the crops may be slightly different here in CD4, the values are not.”

She promised to fight for policies including shutting down the southern border and also signaled that she intends to continue her combative style.

“A lot of folks criticize my approach on things,” Boebert said, “but I learned very early on in Washington, D.C., that nothing happens without force.”

In two other closely watched Republican contests, Attorney Jeff Hurd won the primary for the 3rd District seat currently held by Boebert, and political consultant and talk radio host Jeff Crank defeated Colorado GOP Chairman Dave Williams, who was endorsed by Trump, in the 5th District.

Boebert built national hard-line conservative stardom that likely made it easier for her to weather the scandals of the last year, which included the video of her vaping and causing a disturbance at a musical production of “Beetlejuice.”

While the theater incident and district jump rattled some Republicans, Gilbert Kendzior shrugged them off, saying, “Who’s perfect?”

Kendzior said he voted for Boebert because she shakes things up. “It’s gotten too staid. Same promises, nothing happens,” he said. “We need to get rid of the old farts.”

On Tuesday she beat a group of more traditional, homegrown primary candidates who had far less name recognition and generally less combative political styles: former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg; current state Reps. Mike Lynch and Richard Holtorf; and parental rights advocate Deborah Flora.

Sonnenberg congratulated Boebert and pledged to support her, saying, “I look forward to helping her win this seat in November and then being a resource to her on rural issues in this district.”

The 4th District, which sweeps across a wide expanse of ranches, ghost towns and conservative parts of the Denver metro area that make up much of the plains of eastern Colorado, overwhelmingly went for Trump in the 2020 election.

The seat opened up after former Republican Rep. Ken Buck resigned, citing the divisiveness of today's politics and his party's devotion to Trump. In a special election Tuesday to fill the remaining months of Buck's term, Republican Greg Lopez, a former mayor of the city of Parker, beat a Democrat and third-party candidates.

In the 5th District, which is home to the city of Colorado Springs, Crank bested Williams after the latter faced condemnation from fellow Republicans over his leadership including the use of party resources to boost his own campaign.

Crank said Tuesday night that he looks forward to being his district's conservative voice in Congress and urged Republicans to unite behind Trump, posting on the social platform X: “We have a country to save from Joe Biden’s Open Border Crisis and the failure of the Democrats’ economic policy.”

Williams, a former state representative, has tried to realign the state GOP with the far-right flank of the national party. In recent GOP communications, he called people celebrating Gay Pride Month “godless groomers” and urged people to burn pride flags.

Crank is a more traditional Republican, less inclined toward fiery invective and the party’s hard-right wing.

A complaint against Williams with the Federal Elections Commission alleges that he used the state party email list to announce his campaign for Congress and spent party money on mailers that included an attack on Crank.

The race is to fill the seat of Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who did not seek reelection. As in the 4th District, the winner of the Republican-friendly 5th District will be favored in the general election.

Another GOP House race watched at the national level was the 8th District, newly minted after redistricting in 2021 and hotly contested with voters roughly split between the two major parties.

Republican state Rep. Gabe Evans, a former police officer, defeated former state Rep. Janak Joshi, a retired physician, in the race to challenge Democratic incumbent Yadira Caraveo. Caraveo won the 8th District, which stretches north of Denver, by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2022.

Evans will likely benefit from a windfall of support from the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is intent on defending the party's thin House majority.

And farther to the west, among the Rocky Mountains and high desert mesas, Hurd won the GOP primary for the 3rd District, home to Boebert's current seat.

Hurd, a softer-spoken and less hard-line conservative, will face Democrat Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert by only 546 votes in 2022. That narrow margin was largely attributed to Boebert’s divisiveness among voters, and Hurd is considered to have the advantage in the general election in the Republican-leaning district.

Still, Frisch’s near victory in 2022, which caught national attention and showed donors he had a path to flip the seat, has helped him raise over $13 million. It’s one of the biggest House campaign chests in the nation and far overshadows Hurd’s $1 million.

Despite that, Frisch labeled Hurd as a “corporate lawyer funded by corporate PAC money.”

“My presumptive opponent won’t have the backbone to stand up to Washington interests,” Frisch said in a statement.

Hurd thanked voters for their support.

“On to the general election in November, where a brighter future for Colorado families will be on the ballot,” he said on X.

In the primary, Hurd defeated former Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks; Stephen Varela, a former Democrat who switched parties; businessman Lew Webb; and financial adviser Russ Andrews.

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This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Rep. Caraveo's first name to Yadira, instead of Yadiro.

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Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., arranges a Make America Great Again hat and a pair of gold Converse All-Stars basketball shoes on the stage at her primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (Hart Van Denburg/Colorado Public Radio via AP)

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Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to supporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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A pair of items from former President Doanld Trump sits on stage as Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert speaks with supporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert, front, is trailed by her campaign manager Drew Sexton while greeting supporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., shows off her Donald Trump tennis shoes as she speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks to reporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert speaks to supporters during a primary election watch party, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert speaks to supporters during a primary election watch party, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert, center, jokes with supporters as a group photograph is taken during a primary election watch party, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert, center, greets supporters during a primary election watch party, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert greets supporters during a primary election watch party, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert, left, confers with her campaign manager Drew Sexton while circulating among supporters during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert, right, is greeted by a supporter during a primary election watch party Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Windsor, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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FILE - Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party Dave Williams speaks in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. Republican candidate Williams is running in Colorado's 5th Congressional District as he faces condemnation from his own ranks over anti-LGBTQ+ emails and using his position as state GOP chairman to boost his own campaign. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

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