Boebert

Lauren Boebert, who is challenging Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary, poses in Shooters Grill, her Rifle restaurant. 

Lauren Boebert — the Rifle resident who made national headlines when she went back to her native Aurora to personally tell then-presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke that “hell no, you’re not” taking her guns and is the proprietor of Shooters Bar and Grill — is officially challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.

Boebert, an avid conservative and supporter of President Donald Trump, criticizes Tipton as not being accessible to constituents, something she says she experienced personally as an activist.

“We were calling out to our representatives and leaders, and no one was getting back to us to help us on these issues that were so vital to Colorado: national popular vote, red flag, full-term abortion and all of these things that were going on,” she said. “This last legislative session was crazy. We were trying to recall our governor, who just had extreme overreach, and no one would get back to us. We just begged and begged for their help. The only response we got was, ‘We’re focused on 2020 elections.’ At that moment, I thought, ‘Maybe somebody else should be focused on 2020 elections,’ and that somebody else ended up being me.”

Tipton, who was first elected in 2010, is no stranger to primary challengers. He’s handily won over Republican challengers in 2010, 2014 and 2016, but Boebert thinks 2020 will be different — in some respects because the dynamics in the House of Representatives have been different since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat Democratic fixture Rep. Joe Crowley and went on to a landslide victory in 2018. 

“One person is setting the tone for the nation, and I am ready to stand up and stand against her and turn the conversation back towards our foundation, our Constitution and what’s right: conservative values,” Boebert said.

The 32-year-old acknowledged her own parallels to Ocasio-Cortez’s rise. Boebert, too, comes from the restaurant industry — Boebert, as the owner of an establishment and Ocasio-Cortez as a bartender — and is an impassioned young woman aiming to unseat a well-tenured party official. 

“That’s exactly why I’m better positioned [than Tipton] to take on the Squad,” she said, referencing the four congresswomen elected in 2018 that, in addition to Ocasio-Cortez, include Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

“This progressive socialism narrative is absolutely destroying our country,” Boebert said. “We’ve seen the job that was done whenever [Tipton] had the majority — it wasn’t. We originally elected the congressman to cut our budget, our federal budget, and it’s more than doubled. Fire Nancy Pelosi; she is now the speaker of the house. Abolish Obamacare. So I will just let his record speak for itself. If Congressman Tipton was doing an effective job, I wouldn’t feel the need to run.”

Attempts to reach Tipton's campaign staff for this story were unsuccessful.

Though a first-time political candidate, Boebert has long been a vocal proponent of guns rights — her eatery has made headlines for allowing staff to open carry while serving customers — and opposing the red flag law is a top priority for her. For Boebert, the law that allows a judge to temporarily seize a person’s guns if that person is found to be a significant threat to themselves or others does not just impede someone’s Second Amendment rights, but also their freedom of expression. 

“With these red flag laws, they are targeting people by what they say,” she said. “And people are deemed insane by the words that they are speaking, and I believe that this red flag law is the biggest attack on our First Amendment that we have ever seen.”

She also speaks passionately about abortion rights in the state of Colorado — namely, that they’re too lenient. Colorado is one of seven states that allows late-term abortions past 22 weeks, which Boebert emphatically opposes.

“I’ve even heard it said that in our state of Colorado, post-term abortions are taking place. That means the mother has delivered her child, and decides she does not want that child, and they leave the infant to die,” she said. “A nurse has to stay in the room and record the time of death. I don’t understand how it’s legal; I would like to think that we have some nurses in there that refuse to do anything like that and would do everything they could to save the baby, but I have heard that is happening from people who work in hospitals.”

Infanticide — killing a child within a year of birth — recently resurfaced as a talking point in the national political arena when Senate Democrats blocked the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act from reaching a vote in February, arguing that its proposals to jail healthcare providers was extreme and that the point of the bill was redundant to the 2002 Born-Alive Law, which already protects a person after being born.

President Trump tweeted about the matter, sparking outrage among pro-life groups.

“Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth….” he tweeted Feb. 25.

Still, the practice Boebert outlined is explicitly illegal in Colorado, despite it being one of the 12 states without a fetal homicide statute. In its ruling on a 2008 case, Gonzales v. Mascarenas, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that “a child who is born alive and subsequently dies is such a person within the meaning of our wrongful death statute, and a wrongful death can be maintained regardless of whether the child was viable at the time of the injury or whether the child was viable at the time of birth.”

But Boebert holds representatives like Tipton accountable for the alleged crimes she believes to be happening in the state.

“Why haven't we heard of that? Why isn’t our representation telling us that this is happening? Maybe they don’t have time to do something about it, but they can speak up and let us know,” she said. “They know we’re fighters; they know we're going to go out and get things accomplished.”

Her campaign — which in the first 24 hours boasted official endorsements from Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and the Colorado Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump — is just another way she plans to do exactly that.

“Maybe this radical [leftist] agenda is just what us conservatives needed to wake up and join the fight,” she said. “If you see an area that needs change, you need to be that change that you want to see. I, as a mother, have a mandate on my life to make sure that the world I send [my four sons] into is a good one, is secure. And I’m not going to send them out into a socialist nation, so I’ll do everything I can to protect American values.”

Megan Tackett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at megan@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @MeganTackett10.