Incumbent advantage isn’t always a sure thing in Colorado politics

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DENVER — There’s something to be said for being the incumbent, something about having a political record to stand on or funding a campaign that facilitates re-election.

None of that, however, means the incumbent is unbeatable in Colorado. Case and argument: Lauren Boebert.

The political newcomer was virtually unheard of in 2020 when she managed to defeat Congressman Scott Tipton, who had held the seat for 10 years before Boebert.

Republican Congresswoman Boebert is now the incumbent and faces her first election as such and her first major challenge.

The challenger is State Senator Don Corum, a Republican from Montrose who works in ranching and mining. Corum’s campaign told Newsweek in a statement that Boebert is more interested in being “a right-wing celebrity pundit rather than a representative of the people she is paid to represent.”

Corum said on his website that he wants to prioritize politics over politics, saying rhetoric doesn’t get results.

Boebert hit back at him in a statement saying, “He’s a selfish, super-woke social liberal who would have a much better chance of winning the Democratic nomination.”

However, Boebert isn’t the only starter facing a primary challenger. Congressman Doug Lamborn faces three challengers: Navy veteran Rebecca Keltie, telecommunications CEO Andrew Heaton and state Rep. Dave Williams.

Keltie prides herself on not being a politician. She served in the Navy for 21 years and is the mother of two children. She ran in the last election cycle as a third-party candidate against Lamborn with the Unity party.

Heaton is a first-time candidate, the CEO of telecommunications company Tekniam, and the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary and lab.

Williams is a three-term state legislator who was highly critical of the 2020 election results. He unsuccessfully tried to get his name on the ballot as Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams. He is a manufacturing industry leader who is one of the most conservative voices in the state legislature.

Congressman Ken Buck also faces a primary opponent, real estate broker Bob Lewis. Lewis describes himself as a conservative constitutionalist. He served on the Elbert County Republican Central Committee and served as the county’s Republican Vice President from 2015 to 2020. He is also a real estate broker.

On the Democratic side, Congresswoman Diana DeGette also faces a main challenger in the person of Neal Walia.

Walia is a first-generation American who considers himself a progressive Democrat. He is the son of Indian immigrants who worked on Capitol Hill for years. He says he was inspired to run because he faces many of the same challenges as people in District 1 with affordability.

“I can’t afford to buy a house in the city I love. The cost of childcare is something that is actively delaying my wife and I’s ability to start our own family,” Walia said. “I think our communities deserve to have a representative who lives through the struggles of their constituents.”

Walia says DeGette has had 26 years to try to make a difference, but now is the time for someone else to take a chance.

However, all incumbents have overtaken their main opponents. For some, they have outstripped newcomers by hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the case of Buck and Boebert, they outnumbered their political opponents by the millions.

But if there’s anything Boebert herself has proven, it’s that incumbents are not primaries proof, so Tuesday’s election could bring political upheaval depending on the voters.

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