DENVER (AP) – Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, a renowned conservative arsonist whose combative style helped define the new right, is likely headed for an automatic recount to a surprisingly difficult challenge from a Democratic businessman from the posh Ski town fend off Aspen.
The Associated Press has declared the elections in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district too soon. AP will await the results of a possible recount to announce the race. With nearly all of the votes counted, incumbent Boebert leads Democrat Adam Frisch by 0.16 percentage points, or 551 votes out of nearly 327,000 votes counted.
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Such a narrow margin qualifies for an automatic recount under Colorado law in a race that has drawn national attention as Republicans seek to bolster their advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives after winning a narrow majority Wednesday night.
When counties set the unofficial results Thursday, Boebert’s already narrow lead was cut in half. All but one of the 27 counties in the district had reported final results by Thursday evening. Otero County plans to finalize its numbers on Friday.
In Colorado, a mandatory recount is triggered when the voting margin between the two frontrunners is at or below 0.5 percent of the frontrunner’s total votes. As of Thursday evening, that margin was around 0.34 percent.
The updated results follow a hectic few days for both campaigns as they struggled to “cure” ballots – the process of confirming voters’ choices when their ballots had been rejected at the first count. Both the Republican and Democratic national campaign committees were on the ground in Colorado to support the effort.
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Fresh and Boebert campaign spokesmen declined to comment.
Late Thursday, Boebert claimed victory in a tweeted video of her standing in front of the US Capitol.
“In January, be sure of two things,” Boebert said before thanking her supporters, “I’ll be sworn in for my second term as your congressmen and Republicans can finally turn Pelosi’s house back into the people’s house.”
While Boebert has garnered widespread notoriety and a spot on the so-called “MAGA Squad,” the race heading toward a likely recount is an indication that the Trump loyalist’s provocative style has its political downsides. By election night, Boebert had been heavily favored to win re-election after the sprawling, conservative district’s redistribution became more Republican.
Her razor-sharp lead over Frisch caught the political establishment by surprise, as did her 2020 GOP major loss to a five-year congressman, which helped put her in office. Boebert, the one-time owner of a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, easily won the district in the 2020 general election and quickly established herself as a partisan focal point in Washington.
She filmed an ad in which she strolled the streets of the capital while grabbing her pistol, urging it to be carried on the floor of the US House of Representatives, and caught fights on social media with high-profile Liberal Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
Frisch, a businessman who served on the city council of the posh ski town of Aspen, tried to build a bipartisan coalition of supporters. The challenger’s strategy was to downplay his Democratic Party affiliations and run on a largely conservative platform to capitalize on the GOP’s disenchantment with Boebert’s polarizing rhetoric and what he called their brand of “anger” – a term which he frequently repeated in public appearances and the media.
For Frisch, his unexpected support points to a segment of Republicans tired of Boebert’s Trump-like style. Win or lose, Frisch said earlier Thursday, “I think 99 percent of the story is here.”
Frisch said he expected a close race and wouldn’t be surprised if he won. But the candidate, who attended the congressional briefing in Washington, DC this week for newly elected representatives, added: “Obviously we can’t be surprised if we lose. We’re not that crazy.”
Associated Press writer Will Weissert contributed to this report from Washington DC