Colorado’s primaries could determine control of Congress in November


Colorado’s primary elections on Tuesday will choose the winners in several bitter intraparty fights between the state’s Republicans, including in two competitive House districts that could help determine control of Congress in November.

Despite a series of personal scandals, Lauren Boebert, a hard-right Republican who narrowly avoided defeat in 2022, is favored to win out over a crowded field of other Republican primary candidates in Ken Buck’s former congressional district, the fourth, which leans more heavily Republican.

In Boebert’s former district, Adam Frisch, the Democrat who came within 546 votes of defeating her in 2022, is likely to face a tighter race against the winner of the Republican primary there. Voters in the district supported Trump with 53% of the vote in 2016 and 2020.

Related: Charlie Kirk once unified conservative youth for Trump. Why are Republicans now turning on him?

Frisch’s potential opponents include Jeff Hurd, who is seen as a more old-school and mainstream Republican, and Ron Hanks, a self-described “pro-Trump warrior” who attended the 6 January 2021 rally that preceded the attack on the US Capitol and went on to claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Hanks has said publicly that he did not participate in the breaching of the US Capitol. His Republican colleagues declined to censure him for his actions on that day, Colorado Public Radio reported in 2021, and his current primary bid for Congress has been endorsed by the state Republican party.

Colorado’s most competitive US House race this fall will probably be in the eighth congressional district, where first-term congresswoman Yadira Caraveo is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Her Republican opponent will be either state representative Gabe Evans, an army veteran and former police officer, or former state representative Janak Joshi, a retired physician who has the state party’s endorsement.

Colorado’s primary landscape was reshaped by the sudden resignation this March of Buck, a former Republican congressman and staunch conservative. Buck cited his frustration with his own party in his resignation, telling CNN: “Instead of having decorum – instead of acting in a professional manner – this place has really devolved into this bickering and nonsense.”

The fierce Republican infighting through the primary election has prompted accusations that the state GOP chair, Dave Williams, is running an “inquisition” and “has decided he must purify and purge the Republican party”, as former GOP chair Dick Wadhams said at an event hosted by Axios in Denver.

Williams has faced allegations that he has improperly used the state party’s email list to announce his campaign for Congress and that he spent party money to buy mailers that included an attack on political consultant and talk radio host Jeff Crank, his Republican primary opponent.

The GOP chairman also faced criticisms for asking party candidates to fill out a policy questionnaire that was also an explicit loyalty test, with questions such as “​​Do you support President Trump’s populist, America-first agenda?”

Williams is “cannibalizing the Republican party so he can go to Congress”, Kelly Maher, a veteran GOP operative who filed a complaint against Williams with the Federal Elections Commission, told the Associated Press.

Buck, the former Republican member of Congress who resigned from his seat in March, triggered a special election for a candidate who will serve out the remaining six months of his term. The race appears on the ballot alongside the regularly scheduled primaries on Tuesday.

Former Parker mayor Greg Lopez is seen as likely to win in this race, but he is seen as a placeholder who plans to step down after the general election winner is sworn into office in January.

The Associated Press contributed reporting



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