If Republicans want to have even a distant prayer of retaking control of the U.S. House in November, they really need to avoid unforced errors. You know, like defenestrating a five-term incumbent endorsed by Donald Trump and nominating an extremist who instantly makes a safe seat marginal. That’s what Republican primary voters in Western Colorado’s rural Third Congressional District did yesterday in forcing the retirement of Scott Tipton in favor of Lauren Boebert, a QAnon-curious gun enthusiast who regarded the incumbent as insufficiently Trumpy, despite the fact that he was endorsed by the president.
Here’s what Boebert has had to say about the famously insane QAnon conspiracy theory, according to the Associated Press:
“Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values,” she told interviewer Ann Vandersteel.
QAnon followers believe that Trump is fighting enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. The QAnon name comes from online clues purportedly posted by a high-ranking government official known as “Q.”
Boebert became a local celebrity by reopening her gun-themed restaurant, Shooters Grill, in Rifle, Colorado (you can’t make this stuff up), in early May, in defiance of state and county public-health orders, as the local newspaper the Post Independent reported :
On Wednesday Garfield County officials obtained the temporary restraining order from the district court against Boebert, after she continued to operate her restaurant against public health orders and after she was contacted by law enforcement to shut down. The restraining order was issued after Boebert had been served with a cease and desist letter Tuesday afternoon by law enforcement officials.
It certainly gave her congressional campaign some great free publicity:
Boebert has a knack for gleaning publicity. Last year she “confronted” then–presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke at a Colorado town hall meeting over his hostility to assault weapons, as Fox News reported at the time:
“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” Lauren Boebert told O’Rourke during a town hall event in Aurora, Colo., passionately defending her rights under the Second Amendment.
“I have four children, I am 5-foot-0, 100 pounds, I cannot really defend myself with a fist. … I want to know how you’re going to legislate that because a criminal breaks the law, so all you’re going to do is restrict law-abiding citizens, like myself.”
Nobody familiar with Shooters Grill, where the waitstaff all carry sidearms, would doubt Boebert’s devotion to the Second Amendment.
Tipton just couldn’t compete with all that violent glamour. But the general election is a different matter. You can bet handicappers will soon adjudge the race between Boebert and Democratic nominee Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state legislator who had been seeking a rematch with Tipton, as competitive.
Boebert’s primary win means there are three QAnon-sympathizing women in high-profile races for Congress so far: there’s also Oregon GOP Senate nominee Jo Rae Perkins and Georgia U.S. House candidate Marjorie Greene (the favorite in an upcoming runoff in a heavily Republican district). They are probably not what GOP strategists had in mind in encouraging more women to run for Congress to improve the party’s appeal to suburban moderates. But they do represent a real strain in conservative Republicanism given new life by Trump, even if he doesn’t always reciprocate their love.