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Boebert switches congressional districts, avoiding a Democratic opponent who has far outraised her

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., arrives to the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

DENVER (AP) — Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert announced Wednesday she is switching congressional districts, avoiding a likely rematch against a Democrat who has far outraised her and following an embarrassing moment of groping and vaping that shook even loyal supporters.

In a Facebook video Wednesday evening, Boebert announced she would enter the crowded Republican primary in retiring Rep. Ken Buck's seat in the eastern side of the state, leaving the more competitive 3rd District seat she barely won last year — and which she was in peril of losing next year as some in her party have soured on her controversial style.

Boebert implied in the video that her departure from the district would help Republicans retain the seat, saying, "I will not allow dark money that is directed at destroying me personally to steal this seat. It’s not fair to the 3rd District and the conservatives there who have fought so hard for our victories.”

“The Aspen donors, George Soros and Hollywood actors that are trying to buy this seat, well they can go pound sand," she said.

Boebert called it “a fresh start,” acknowledging the rough year following a divorce with her husband and video of her misbehaving with a date at a performance of the musical “Beetlejuice” in Denver. The scandal in September rocked some of her faithful supporters, who saw it as a transgression of conservative, Christian values and for which Boebert apologized at events throughout her district.

She already faced a primary challenge in her district, as well as a general election face-off with Democrat Adam Frisch, a former Aspen city council member who came within a few hundred votes of beating her in 2022. A rematch was expected, with Frisch raising at least $7.7 million to Boebert's $2.4 million.

Instead, if Boebert wins the primary to succeed Buck she will run in the state's most conservative district, which former President Donald Trump won by about 20 percentage points in 2020, in contrast to his margin of about 8 percentage points in her district. While it's not required that a representative live in the congressional district they represent, only the state the district is in, Boebert said she would be moving — a shift from Colorado's western Rocky Mountain peaks and high desert mesas to its eastern expanse of prairie grass and ranching enclaves.

In 2022, Frisch's campaign found support in the conservative district from unaffiliated voters and Republicans who'd defected over Boebert's brash, Trumpian style. In this election, Frisch's campaign had revived the slogan “stop the circus” and framed Frisch as the “pro-normal” alternative to Boebert's more partisan politics.

In a statement after Boebert's announcement, Frisch said he's prepared for whoever will be the Republican candidate.

“From Day 1 of this race, I have been squarely focused on defending rural Colorado's way of life, and offering common sense solutions to the problems facing the families of Colorado's 3rd Congressional District." he said. “My focus will remain the same.”

The Republican primary candidate who has raised the second most behind Boebert in the 3rd District, Jeff Hurd, is a more traditional Republican candidate. Hurd has already garnered support from prominent Republicans in the district, first reported by VailDaily.

Boebert rocked the political world by notching a surprise primary win against the incumbent Republican congressman in the 3rd District in 2020 when she ran a gun-themed restaurant in the town of Rifle, Colorado. She then tried to enter the U.S. Capitol carrying a pistol and began to feud with prominent liberal Democrats like Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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