Thin margins in the Boebert-Frisch battle for Congress brings challenger hope for more than just a ‘moral victory’

Rick Carroll
Aspen Times
Rep. Lauren Boebert and challenger Adam Frisch are seen at their various watch parties on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
The Colorado Sun archive

Voters in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District should have a clearer idea by Friday of who will be their next representative in Washington, but challenger Adam Frisch, D-Aspen, said his showing so far illustrates a willingness by conservatives to vote blue in today’s political environment.

As the three-day Veterans Day weekend came to a close Sunday, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, led Frisch by 1,122 votes. The first-term congresswoman had 162,040 votes to Frisch’s 160,918 votes, giving her an advantage of 50.17% to Frisch’s 49.83%, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s website.

An automatic recount would be triggered if the margin of votes separating Boebert and Frisch were within half of a percentage point of the frontrunner’s vote total. As the frontrunner, Boebert had 1,122 more votes than Frisch, which exceeds the .05% threshold.

Since announcing his candidacy in February, Frisch has been trying to shed the Aspen stereotype of being a detached, wealthy liberal unable to connect or identify with the blue-collar voters living in the sprawling district of ranching communities and oil and gas development. Frisch stumped in the district’s two biggest population centers — Mesa County on the Western Slope and Pueblo County in southern Colorado — and the locales in between.

“I went on the road hard in the primary because I know I needed to get over the Aspen mountain town thing,” said Frisch, who survived the June primary election with 25,750 votes to runner-up Sol Sandoval, who garnered 25,460 votes. Democrat Alex Walker finished third in the primary with 9,507 votes.

“It was a little bit about people assuming I’m liberal but more about ‘how can someone in a mountain town connect with me in Pueblo’ or the rancher in Rangely. I knew if I could get in front of people, I could gain their choice.”

His campaign blueprint was to run as a moderate, fiscally conservative Democrat and meet with voters who cast their ballots for Boebert in 2020 but “were tired of the circus,” Frisch said, noting the incumbent’s flame-throwing rhetoric was wearing thin in the 27-county district.

“I think having this conservative Democrat, pro-business, pro-domestic energy, that that story allowed me to earn some votes from some people that probably were going to either stay home or under-vote with her, but they were going to take a chance or opportunity on me because they liked what they heard,” he said.

Boebert had Donald Trump’s endorsement in her June primary election, has been steadfastly against abortion, and has been part of the MAGA movement that was predicted to roll in Tuesday’s midterms.

Boebert tweeted Friday: “Told you all year, the Left would do everything that they possibly could to get rid of me. As this race comes down to every last vote, I need you to help us ensure we have the resources to finish what we started!”

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, held a razor-thin lead over Democratic challenger Adam Frisch of Aspen.
The Associated Press

MAGA candidates for the most part did not meet their expectations — from Trump-picked Dr. Mehmet Oz falling to John Fetterman in the Senate contest in Pennsylvania to Democrat Hillary Scholten defeating the Trump-endorsed John Gibbs in a congressional race in Michigan.

Frisch felt Boebert was vulnerable as well.

“One, she was electorally weak,” Frisch said. “Two, we had to work incredibly hard and run a very, very good campaign. And three, the person who runs against the MAGA candidate must be able to convince some of those people … and they’re out there. But no matter how you work, if these candidates can’t connect with some subset of the assumed normal Republican voters or the unaffiliated on the right, you can’t get them.

“Did I connect enough? We’ll find out Friday.”

Big deadlines this week

Two key deadlines loom this week. Wednesday is the deadline for voters to “cure” rejected ballots. Ballots from military and overseas voters that were postmarked by 7 p.m. Nov. 8 are also due to county clerks Wednesday. Clerks are supposed to have all of their ballots counted by Friday.

The Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office said last week there are 132 ballots from Pitkin County voters that need to be decided. The office said it had mailed letters with the undecided ballots that were rejected by teams of election judges for reasons that could include signature discrepancy, identification required, or an envelope that was not signed.

Voters can also visit the secretary of state’s website to check their vote status.

“I’m cool, collected and calm, and I’m sleeping,” Frisch said. “There are probably 100 million people that are focused on this race, but the picture is we’re down about by 1,000.”

According to The Associated Press, 99% of the votes had been counted.

Counties have until Nov. 29 to file their election audit with the state and until Nov. 30 to submit their canvas reports, which cover the number of votes tallied, rejected, cured and disqualified.

In the event of an automatic recount, the results would be due until Dec. 13, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s election calendar. Without an automatic recount, candidates could launch their own but would need to pay for it. Candidate recounts would need to finished by Dec. 15.

“We have this moral victory, but we’re just trying make it a win-win, not just a moral win,” Frisch said.

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