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Marina Zimmerman, a member of the GOP running to unseat right-wing Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert in the June 28 Colorado primary, says there’s a “silent majority” in her party inclined to put someone other than Boebert on the ticket.
Zimmerman, a former industrial crane operator who lives in Arboles in southwestern Colorado on the border with New Mexico, was encouraged by the latest redistricting map that has Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District leaning even more Republican in 2022.
“The district becoming redder is an advantage for Republicans,” Zimmerman said in an email. “However, after talking with constituents in CD3 for the past several months, I am confident there’s a real silent majority present among the GOP voting bloc in CD3. And it’s OK for them to choose a different Republican on the ticket.”
Boebert’s office did not return an email requesting comment.
The third and likely final map approved 11-1 this week by the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission kept the basic contours of CD3, which includes most of southern and western Colorado. Its two biggest cities would still be Grand Junction and Pueblo, if the Colorado Supreme Court approves the new map by Nov. 1. The court can also send it back for revisions.
The new map, mandated by law and informed by the U.S. Census, creates an eighth House district in the northern Denver suburbs and Front Range up to Greeley due to population growth. Based on previous election results, three districts lean heavily Republican, three lean heavily Democrat and two lean slightly Democrat (the 7th and 8th).
CD3 would go from leaning about six points Republican to more than nine points GOP. It also would no longer include the most populous parts of Eagle County along the Interstate 70 corridor from Gypsum to EagleVail. Those areas would move into liberal Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse’s 2nd Congressional District, which already includes Vail.
Vail is the home of former Vail Town Council member Kerry Donovan, a progressive state senator who also runs a ranch further west along I-70 near Edwards. That area would also move into Neguse’s CD2.
Donovan since February has been the highest profile Democrat in the race to unseat the controversial Boebert, reportedly raising more than $1.2 million in campaign cash. Donovan was still raising funds and saber rattling against Boebert on Thursday (Sept. 30, even though she would have to either move into the new CD3 or run as a district outsider, which is legal but politically problematic, for obvious reasons.
Asked if she will continue to challenge Boebert from outside the district or look to move into the new CD3, large swaths of which she has represented in the state Senate for eight years, Donovan replied with an email from a campaign spokesperson.
“Lauren Boebert’s unpopular belief in conspiracy theories, mounting ethics scandals, and refusal to work for the people of the Third Congressional District make her uniquely vulnerable in the next election,” Eli Rosen wrote. “While our team continues to analyze next steps, Kerry’s focus remains on giving the people of Western and Southern Colorado an honest, hard-working voice in Washington.”
[Editor’s note: On Monday, Oct. 4, Donovan announced on Twitter that she is suspending fundraising until the Colorado Supreme Court makes its final decision. She also blasted the process that has made the congressional map less competitive for Democrats when the state is clearly now leaning Democrat.]
Boebert has drawn withering criticism nationally and within the district for her role in the Jan. 6 insurrection (tweeting “Today is 1776”) and her full embrace of the widely debunked 2020 “big lie” election-theft conspiracy theory that’s, among other things, led to a state and federal criminal investigation of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters.
Peters is a Boebert-linked election-denier who stands accused of facilitating the release of critical voting machine security information to “big lie” conspiracy theorists such as ardent Donald Trump supporter and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Boebert won Mesa County, home to Grand Junction, by a whopping 27.8 points in 2020.
Just in the last month, Boebert, who upset five-term Republican Scott Tipton in the 2020 primary, has posted a video embracing the racist and anti-immigrant replacement theory, admitted to illegally paying the rent for her Shooters Grill restaurant in Rifle out of campaign funds, posted a video of herself illegally unmasked at Denver International Airport, and amended federal disclosure documents showing her husband’s nearly $1 million in consulting fees from a Texas oil and gas company. She is the subject of numerous FEC investigations and ethics complaints.
Zimmerman, who said she never voted for Trump and in fact went with President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, points to Boebert’s allegiance to Trump and her perpetuating of Trump’s “big lie.”
“Honesty and integrity are some things we’ve lost in the last four years,” Zimmerman told Colorado Newsline. “Those things are important. The truth is important, we may not always like it, but the truth is very important.”
Besides Donovan, other Democrats seeking to unseat Boebert include Pueblo activist Sol Sandoval Tafoya, a self-described “first-generation daughter of immigrants and a Chicana indigenous woman.”
“The 3rd Congressional District will look different than it does now, but my reason for running for this seat remains the same,” Sandoval wrote in an email statement. “I am running for Congress from my community and for my community. From Pueblo to Craig, we share the same values — a belief in opportunity, hard work, and family. This district needs someone in Washington willing to do what it takes to protect our water, save our schools, and bring back a thriving economy for rural Colorado, which is why I will fight to the last vote to win this election.”
Boebert won CD3 largely in Grand Junction and surrounding Mesa County, because Steamboat Springs Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush won the more populous Pueblo County by a narrow margin in 2020 and Boebert lost her home Garfield County by the same 6-point margin she claimed the overall race.
Garfield County Democrat Colin Wilhelm, a Glenwood Springs criminal defense attorney, thinks redistricting will help him given that he’s more moderate than Donovan.
“I don’t think it’s harder for a Democrat to win, except a progressive Democrat,” Wilhelm told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel when asked about the new, more GOP-friendly CD3 map. “In order to win this district, you need to live in it, and I think that’s true for any district.”
In the same story, Donovan said she was hoping that Amendments Y and Z in 2018 would wind up creating more competitive districts.
“This process was meant to draw competitive maps, and clearly the commission didn’t deliver,” Donovan told the Daily Sentinel. “Lauren Boebert is an ethically flawed politician chasing fame and that should concern everyone on the Western Slope.”
Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared on Colorado Times Recorder.