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3rd Congressional District candidates campaign in Roaring Fork Valley before Election Day

Boebert waves an American flag and greets drivers on the corner of Willits Lane and Highway 82 in Basalt. Behind her, various residents of the Roaring Fork Valley carry signs that express their support of Adam Frisch and their disappointment in her performance as a representative.
Caroline Llanes
Aspen Public Radio News
Boebert waves an American flag and greets drivers on the corner of Willits Lane and Highway 82 in Basalt. Behind her, various residents of the Roaring Fork Valley carry signs that express their support of Adam Frisch and their disappointment in her performance as a representative.

The candidates for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District were in the Roaring Fork Valley over the past few days —making their case to voters and waving flags. Both U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Democrat Adam Frisch from Aspen were optimistic about their chances Tuesday.

On Friday, Boebert was at the corner of Willits Lane and Highway 82 in Basalt, waving a large American flag.

Boebert and supporters waved to drivers as they passed by the small group.

She got plenty of supportive honks, with some drivers even rolling their windows down to shout things such as “Vote Republican” and “Make Colorado Red!”

Since she launched her first congressional campaign in 2020, Boebert has become a national figure, known for her unabashedly pro-Donald Trump sentiment, as well as her embrace of various conspiracy theories, including that the 2020 election was stolen, QAnon and the white supremacist great replacement theory.

One of those instances happened in June at Cornerstone Christian Church in Basalt, where Boebert decried the separation of church and state to the congregants.

“The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church,” she said. “That is not how our Founding Fathers directed it, and I’m tired of this separation-of-church-and-state junk.”

Aspen Public Radio was able to speak with Boebert on Friday — a rare opportunity, given that her press team has yet to respond to multiple requests for a one-on-one interview, be it in person, or over the phone or Zoom.

She says the media doesn’t focus on what she has done for the district — including House Resolution 4302, a forest management bill she introduced in 2021.

“You know, there's environmental extremists who have locked down our lands and have pushed land grabs and it prevented us from actually managing our forests,” she said. “But then, at the same time, shout about climate change, when one catastrophic wildfire emits more carbon emissions in a few short days than every vehicle in the state of Colorado running for 24/7.”

HR 4302 is one of 40 bills of which Boebert is the main sponsor. As of November, not one of those bills has made it out of committee.

And some voters wanted answers from Boebert on Friday — specifically, about what she has done for the district and for the Roaring Fork Valley.

Amiee Beazley, a freelance journalist who lives in Basalt, was one of those voters. She said she had been hoping to have a conversation with Boebert about issues that were important to her: health care, abortion access and funding for public education.

“And when I mentioned that stuff, she kind of came back with some angry words, some things that I'd heard her say before in front of TV cameras and things like that," she said. "And she walked away, unfortunately. So it was not the kind of conversation I'd hoped that we'd have. I don't know if she would have changed my mind about voting for her. But I could have gained some respect for her. And that didn't happen either. So it was kind of fruitless engagement, unfortunately.”

Beazley voted for Frisch, someone she hopes will be able to have conversations.

“In some ways, I feel like this kind of bombastic personality that she's created is like an audition for something that I'm not quite sure what job she's going for,” she said. “But not being able to have an honest conversation with a 48-year-old voter who is just out there with her dog? That concerns me. I mean, I'm not a person that she needs to be afraid of. I'm just a voter in her district.”

It was a more laid-back environment on Saturday at El Sazón de mi Tierra, a Mexican restaurant in Glenwood Springs. Frisch ate lunch with members of his family and a variety of folks from the Democratic Party.

Pueblo resident Sol Sandoval, who ran against Frisch in the primary, was there, as were Garfield County Democratic candidates for commissioner and clerk and recorder, Ryan Gordon and Becky Moller.

Frisch told Aspen Public Radio that he feels good about the campaign that he and his team have run so far.

“People want the circus to stop," he said. "And that's resonating with people, getting back to issues about veterans health care, rural health care, rural education, protecting water. And they realize they want someone that's going to sit down at the table and work in a bipartisan manner and not go there to try to ridicule and demean and be petty to people.”

He says it’s a good sign that Boebert and her campaign have been decrying him and his record on the Aspen City Council — that they see him as a legitimate threat.

Boebert criticized Frisch’s campaign again Friday.

“It kind of seems like the Democrat campaign that I'm running up against doesn't have their own policies to stand on,” she said. “It's just a referendum on Lauren Boebert, which is weird, you know, for America and for freedom and getting our country under control again. So when all you have is the other guy's bad, I don't know.”

But voters such as Judy Simecek — who lives in Blue Lake and came out Friday to express her disapproval for Boebert — don’t feel like Boebert stands for much either.

“I’ll vote for anybody who would work across the aisle," she said. "I'm not set to one party.”

As an example, she pointed to Eagle County Sheriff James Van Beek, a Republican.

“I actually really like him," she said. "I think he's a good guy. I voted for him. I'll vote across the aisle for anyone who's reasonable and willing to work. Lauren just votes no. She doesn't care if a bill is good. She's voted against veterans like 14 times. What does she stand for? She doesn't stand for anything. She waves a flag and freedom. Guns. What's she going to do for us? Nothing.”

The Cook Political Report rates the 3rd District as “solid R” as of Nov. 1. The district leaned Republican before redistricting, but it now favors Republicans even more heavily, with Cook’s partisan voting index giving them the edge by 7 percentage points.

Republicans have an additional edge this year, as historically, the president’s party tends to perform poorly in the midterms.

Boebert expressed her confidence in what some are calling a “red wave.”

“I'm pretty confident that Republicans are going to show up in a massive, massive way," she said. "I'm hearing of a lot of Republicans who are showing up on Election Day, which is great. I'm voting on Election Day. And, you know, right now we're leading in Colorado’s 3rd District. And I have confidence that our voters will vote in the right policies that's going to get our country under control.”

Of the ballots turned in the 3rd District, 33% have been Republican and 28% have been Democrats — but the race will be decided, as so many Colorado races are, by unaffiliated voters.

So far, 37% of the 3rd District’s ballots turned in have come from unaffiliated voters.

But Boebert wouldn’t answer directly when asked if she was confident in the security of Colorado’s elections.

“Are you confident in the security of our elections?” she said. “I'm hearing a lot of Democrats talk about their lack of confidence in the security of the elections, which is kind of funny since we're going to see a red wave and lots of Republicans get elected and we're going to take back the House and it looks like we're going to take back the Senate, too, which will put a big check on Biden.”

Carbondale resident Camile Shulman, a Boebert supporter, says she’ll drop her ballot off in person.

“I've worried about election fraud, but I'm doing all I can do,” she said. “No. I'm turning it in. I'll deliver it either to the town of Carbondale or to the east entrance of the courthouse in Glenwood."

Amiee Beazley of Basalt has already dropped off her ballot — but she’s much more confident in the security of Colorado’s elections than Shulman is.

“We have done a great job of keeping our elections safe and fair," she said. "And I feel like my vote is counted. I mean, I watch my ballot go through the process. I get, you know, text updates, which is amazing."

Beazley also said she supports Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, and that she feels Griswold has done a great job running Colorado’s elections.

“I mean, if we can put a man on the moon and, you know, talk about landing on Mars, we can have safe and fair elections in this country,” she said.

Ultimately, she says she’s glad she got to see Boebert in person and had a chance to engage with her, even if it didn’t go as she had hoped.

“I'd like to do it in a little bit more civilized fashion down the road, but I'm hoping that the next time we have a talk with our elected [officials], it’ll be Adam Frisch standing there instead of Lauren Boebert,” she said.

Frisch hopes so, too. He calls the support he has been getting “tripartisan” — coming from Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

“And there's just a lot of fired up people, boots on the ground,” he said. “We have Republicans door knocking for us, unaffiliated knocking for us and Democrats knocking for us. And so we're super excited to see our really high turnout for this election.”

As of Friday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office reports more than 173,000 voters had turned in ballots in the 27 counties that make up the 3rd District. There are more than 500,000 active registered voters in the district, which means there are a lot more ballots to be counted before the race is called.

Unlike Boebert, Frisch was much more willing to express his confidence in the electoral process.

“We have very, very safe elections,” he said. “We have the highest integrity. I have complete faith in the men and women of the poll watchers. I say 'Thank you’ to them for doing their work and volunteering. I'm here to honor the elections that get certified by her secretary of state.”

Caroline Llanes is a general assignment reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering everything from local governments to public lands. Her work has been featured on NPR. Previously, she was an associate producer for WBUR’s Morning Edition in Boston.