Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton ousted in primary by gun rights activist

Upset winner Lauren Boebert owns restaurant where staff carry firearms

Restaurant owner Lauren Boebert, who encouraged her staff to carry a firearm at work, won an upset victory over five-term Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary in Colorado's 3rd District. (RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images file photo)
Restaurant owner Lauren Boebert, who encouraged her staff to carry a firearm at work, won an upset victory over five-term Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary in Colorado's 3rd District. (RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images file photo)
Posted June 30, 2020 at 11:28pm

Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton lost his primary Tuesday to Lauren Boebert, a gun rights activist who has also been associated with the far-right conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

He’s the fourth House member, and third Republican, to lose his party’s support for another term this cycle.

Tipton conceded shortly after 9 p.m. Mountain time Tuesday, according to multiple Colorado news reports. With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Boebert was leading 54 percent to 46 percent in the 3rd District GOP primary when The Associated Press called the race at 9:30 p.m..

Awaiting Boebert in November is former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, who won the Democratic nomination for the second straight cycle. Mitsch Bush was leading businessman James Iacino 61 percent to 39 percent when the AP called the primary at 7:50 p.m.

Unlike Tipton, Boebert ran television ads during the primary. A spot released at the beginning of June urged voters to reject the incumbent and tried to connect him to New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

President Donald Trump carried the district by 12 points in 2016. Tipton won a fifth term two years later, defeating Mitsch Bush by 8 points. It was his narrowest reelection since he unseated Democrat John Salazar in 2010.

Confronted O’Rourke

Boebert owns a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, where the staff openly carry firearms, according to The Colorado Sun. She also grabbed headlines last year when she confronted Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke over his support for an assault weapons ban and his comment in a debate, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” Boebert told the former Texas congressman, The Denver Post reported. O’Rourke dropped out of the race in November.

Boebert has also been associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, which centers on the belief that Trump is fighting a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state.”

According to Colorado Public Radio, Boebert appeared on a “Q-friendly web show” and said, “I hope that this is real. It only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values and that’s what I am for.”

Republican Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado’s 3rd District was seeking a sixth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tipton’s loss came despite a massive financial advantage in the primary. As of June 10, his campaign had $630,000 in the bank to just $13,000 for Boebert.

Boebert’s victory could be welcome news for Democrats, who believe they have a chance to flip the 3rd District, given its sizable Hispanic population.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican

Tipton had the endorsement of the president, whose campaign started June by touting a perfect record for his endorsed candidates. Since then, however, Rep. Denver Riggleman lost the GOP nomination at a party convention in Virginia and Republican activist Linda Bennett lost a primary runoff in the North Carolina district formerly represented by Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff.

Trump quickly congratulated Boebert in a tweet that linked a video she put out in May saying she was raising four boys and refused to "send my children into a socialist nation."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a statement Tuesday that Trump’s endorsement could not save Tipton from “his extreme, QAnon caucus challenger” and called on GOP officials in Washington to disavow Boebert “and her extremist, dangerous conspiracy theories.”

Other incumbents who lost primaries this year were GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois. Rep. Eliot L. Engel is currently trailing in the primary vote count in New York, where opponent Jamaal Bowman has declared victory. The counting of absentee ballots in New York has delayed results from the June 23 primary.

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