Here’s What You Need to Know About Colorado’s Primaries
Here’s What You Need to Know About Colorado’s Primaries

By Nathan Worcester

The biggest move ahead of the June 25 Colorado congressional primaries is a district switch, which happened months ago.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), after a divorce from her husband, Jayson Boebert, decided to depart from Colorado’s Third District, on the western slope, in favor of the Fourth District in the eastern half of the state.

Before the move, the Freedom Caucus mainstay was set for a rematch against Adam Frisch, the Democrat who came within a few hundred votes of beating her in 2022. She eked out a victory that year after a closely watched recount.

Although he won’t be up against Ms. Boebert this time, Mr. Frisch’s big fundraising haul has still positioned him well for November as he seeks to influence the GOP field through television advertising.

Meanwhile, a Republican endorsed by former President Donald Trump might move closer to facing a Democrat incumbent in a district evenly divided between the two parties.

Here’s what to look for in Colorado’s congressional primaries—and a key special election.

In Third District, Democrat Frisch Spends Big

Mr. Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman, has been Colorado’s big fundraiser this congressional primary cycle. His campaign boasts receipts of more than $13.1 million. He also has more than $3.7 million in cash on hand, according to federal elections reporting.

While his fundraising slowed after Ms. Boebert changed districts, his totals still dwarf those of his Republican opponents. Mr. Frisch’s only rivals on the Democratic side, veterinarian Debby Burnett and Grand Junction Mayor Anna Maria Stout, left the race months ago.

The former New York currency trader has used some of his ample monetary resources to run an attack ad against a top Republican opponent, Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd.

Mr. Hurd, a veteran of the white-shoe law firm Sullivan & Cromwell who clerked for federal appeals court Judge Timothy Tymkovich, led rival GOP candidate Ron Hanks in a June poll by 18 points.

Mr. Hanks is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives. Although he was endorsed by the state Republican Party, he has raised less than $23,000, compared with more than $1 million by Mr. Hurd.

Other GOP names on the primary ballot are financial adviser Russ Andrews, Colorado State Board of Education member Stephen Varela, businessman Lew Webb, and entrepreneur Curtis McCrackin.

The Third District leans Republican, according to the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Boebert in Fourth District, But Not for Special Election

Mr. Frisch’s $13.1-million-plus receipts would have placed him head and shoulders above Ms. Boebert in the Third District. But the elevation is a little lower in the fourth.

Ms. Boebert’s receipts of $3.7 million put her well ahead of anyone else in the district, a seat vacated in March by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.). She has benefited from almost $230,000 in outside spending, including $202,000 from the Freedom Caucus’s House Freedom Fund.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) leaves the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 6, 2024. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In the June 25 primary, Ms. Boebert will face parental rights activist and speaker Deborah Flora, who has raised more than $426,000. Rancher and former Colorado State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, mortgage broker Peter Yu, and State Reps. Richard Holtorf and Mike Lynch also will appear on the Republican ballot.

Ms. Boebert will be absent from the ballot for a special election that same day, the winner of which will fill Mr. Buck’s seat for the remainder of the session.

Greg Lopez, who won’t be on the primary ballot, was chosen by Republicans as their special election candidate after six rounds of voting by a committee in late March.

His opponents in the district, which is solidly Republican per Cook, include Democrat Trisha Calvarese, former speechwriting and publications director of the AFL-CIO.

Unlike Mr. Lopez, Ms. Calvarese will also appear on the primary ballot. She’ll be alongside addiction recovery activist John Padora Jr. and retired Marine officer Isaac “Ike” McCorkle, the district’s top fundraiser after Ms. Boebert.

One Republican hopeful who didn’t make the cut, former energy executive Floyd Trujillo, endorsed Ms. Flora.

A late May Kaplan Strategies poll has Ms. Boebert leading one GOP rival, Mr. Yu, by 35 points.

Much of the public polling funded by Democratic candidates shows their top candidate defeating Ms. Boebert in a hypothetical November matchup.

Colorado GOP Chair Vies for Fifth District

The Rocky Mountain State’s Fifth District, located in the vicinity of military and Christian hotbed Colorado Springs, is also fairly Republican, rated R+9 in the 2023 Cook Political Report and said to split 58.25 percent Republican to 41.75 percent Democrat by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project after its 2021 redistricting.

It, too, is losing a longstanding Republican representative; Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), first elected in 2006, isn’t seeking another term.

On the GOP ballot, the Colorado Republican Party’s chairman, Dave Williams, is seeking the nomination, although not without considerable controversy.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) speaks during a hearing about reviewing the fiscal year 2025 budget request for missile defense and missile defeat programs in Washington on April 12, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

ProPublica reported that the state party spent almost $20,000 in late May to support Mr. Williams, following a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Mr. Williams misused party funds to advance his candidacy.

Mr. Williams is facing Jeff Crank, a regional vice president for Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ network. Mr. Crank has so far outspent Mr. Williams by more than 3-to-1. In addition, he has benefited from outside spending by America Leads Action, which has largely been funded by Walmart heir and former chair Rob Walton and conservative climate change entrepreneur Jay Faison.

Mr. Williams is running with the MAGA stamp of approval—he’s backed by former President Trump, Ms. Boebert, and other Republican stalwarts.

By contrast, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams are among the more moderate Republicans who have endorsed Mr. Crank in his race in Colorado, a state that went from red to purple to blue in just a few decades.

On the Democratic ballot, River Gassen will face Joe Reagan. Ms. Gassen has an affiliation with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ BioFrontiers Center. She has been endorsed by Fourth District hopeful Mr. Padora and the Colorado Working Families Party, among others.

Mr. Reagan is a U.S. Army veteran who has worked in the nonprofit sector. His supporters include retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Irv Halter.

Both Democrats have raised significantly less money than their top GOP rivals according to federal elections data.

2 Republicans Vie to Flip Evenly Split District

Freshman Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.) won’t have to deal with any challengers from her own party in the June 25 primary. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, two main candidates are competing to represent their party in the general election.

The district, which was created after the 2020 U.S. Census, is among the nation’s most evenly split. The Cook Political Report rates it “even,” while Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has judged that it leans toward the Democrats.

Ms. Caraveo was ranked the 30th most bipartisan member of Congress by the Lugar Center.

Door to the Senate at the Colorado State Capital during the special session on Nov. 17, 2023. (Katie Spence/The Epoch Times)

The GOP hopefuls running in the district on June 25 include state Rep. Gabe Evans, an Army veteran and former police officer who received an endorsement from former President Trump.

His opponent, former state representative and retired physician Dr. Janak Joshi, got the nod from the state GOP.

Two other candidates, Joseph Andujo and Scott James, have dropped out of the race.

Mr. Evans’s fundraising has far exceeded Dr. Joshi’s—but his numbers are far short of Ms. Caraveo’s. She has more than $2.3 million in cash on hand to more than $225,000 in Mr. Evans’s coffers.


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