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Learn more about the many candidates seeking to unseat Lauren Boebert in Colorado's CD3

Signs that direct voters to a ballot drop box outside the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s offices in Grand Junction on Thursday, August 26, 2021.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Signs that direct voters to a ballot drop box outside the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s offices in Grand Junction on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

This story was originally published by Colorado Public Radio.

Nine Democrats and two Republicans are running in the CO-3 primary, hoping to challenge first-term Rep. Lauren Boebert, who has been a lightning rod for national controversy since her first days in office.

From supporting objections to the certification of President Biden’s election, to Islamophobic comments about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, to heckling the president during the State of the Union, Boebert has raised her media profile, but not necessarily her legislative one. That’s helped her fundraising — she now has a lot of campaign money on hand — but none of the 26 bills she has introduced thus far have made much progress in the House.

While CO-3 has been represented by Republicans for the past decade, redistricting appears to have given the seat an even stronger GOP lean. The new map of CO-3 subtracts some bluer counties in the north and adds redder areas in southeastern Colorado.

As the incumbent, Boebert will be tough to beat. But given that she herself beat an incumbent to get to Congress, tough does not mean impossible.

Here are the candidates running for the seat.

The Republicans

Lauren Boebert: The owner of a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Boebert parlayed her support of the 2nd amendment, opposition to COVID-restrictions and a Trump-like social media presence into a successful run for Congress. A staunch Trump supporter, Boebert has made inroads with that wing of the Republican party. She co-chairs the 2nd amendment caucus and is communications chair for the House Freedom Caucus. Boebert announced her plans to seek reelection in December, saying, “We don’t just need to take the House back in 2022, but we need to take the House back with fearless conservatives, strong Republicans, just like me.”

Don Coram: Coram currently serves as a state Senator, representing the southwestern corner of Colorado. He previously spent five years in the state House. Coram is considered a relative moderate, who has worked on bipartisan legislation from expanding rural broadband to increasing access to contraception. When announcing his run, the Montrose resident said he wants to go to D.C. to bring back funds for Colorado and work with people on both sides of the aisle: “Why can't we just go (to Congress) and do the people's business, rather than promote sound bites and hate and division?”

Marina Zimmerman: A crane operator from the small town of Arboles in Archuleta County, Zimmerman says she is running to advocate for the working class and to restore sensibility, civility and ethics in Congress. Zimmerman told Colorado Politics she voted for Biden in 2020, as a protest against Trump. The issues she highlights on her campaign website are sustainable housing, water issues, and wildfires and forest health.

The Democrats

Debby Burnett: Burnett is a veterinarian and has also worked as a licensed hospital physical therapist. She and her family recently moved to Gunnison from Jackson County. She says she will advocate for agriculture, environmental stewardship and an economy that works for everyone as the country transitions to renewable energy.

Adam Frisch: Frisch joined the race in February. He served two terms on the Aspen City Council and describes himself as a mainstream Democrat who supports small businesses, the environment, public education and affordable health care. Frisch says he will work to bring the people of the district together to make progress on rural issues in a bipartisan manner.

Kellie Rhodes: The Crested Butte resident comes from a farming and ranching family. She has worked in human services, including as a child protection caseworker. Rhodes says she’s running because she’s watched many policy solutions fail because they ignored the actual needs and experiences of the people they were intended to help.

Root Routledge: The Durango resident ran a short-lived campaign for CO-3 in 2020. He pitches himself as a staunch progressive, but’s running again, but has said on Facebook that he plans to support fellow candidate Burnett in the primary.

Sol Sandoval: The daughter of immigrants from Mexico, Sandoval is a social worker and community organizer. In announcing her run last year, the Pueblo-based candidate said she is concerned about what she sees as Boebert’s lack of concern for the district. She says her goal is to increase opportunities for Coloradans, support water rights and public lands, work on immigration reform and reduce health care costs.

Donald Valdez: Valdez is a 5th generation farmer and rancher who hails from the San Luis Valley. Since 2017, Valdez has served in the Colorado state House. He’s a conservative Democrat who has been known to buck the party on issues, like 2nd amendment rights. Valdez says he has “a record of delivering results for rural America,” and will focus on constituents, not “conspiracy theories” or “mudslinging.”

Alex Walker: Walker also announced his entrance in the race in February with an intensely scatological viral video attacking Boebert. He describes himself as a politically moderate, queer, “engineering nerd.” He says he would work for nonpartisan solutions that make sense. He lives in Eagle County, but not within the new boundaries for CO-3. He has already qualified for the ballot via the signature process.

Colin Wilhelm: Wilhelm is an attorney working out of Glenwood Springs. He previously ran unsuccessfully for the Colorado Legislature. He said the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Boebert’s actions leading up to that day prompted him to run. He describes himself as someone who can unite people across party lines.

Scott Yates: Yates is a businessman and former writer; he has contributed to papers across Colorado and worked for former Gov. Bill Owens. The Pueblo resident says he’s running to improve people’s lives one hour at a time. His main issue is to end Daylight Saving Time.

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