By Wednesday morning, with more than 90% of the vote counted in the 3rd Congressional District for an open seat, Lauren Boebert and Diane Mitsch Bush agreed Boebert, the Republican extremist, had won the race, with 51.1% of the vote to 45.7% for Mitsch Bush, a true-blue Democrat.
We have had months to rehearse our explanation for this outcome. We thought, from the moment Boebert burst on the political scene with a pistol strapped to her thigh, and through her primary trouncing of Republican incumbent Scott Tipton, that here was a disrupter – a description that she and her supporters might appreciate as well.
The match up was asymmetrical. Mitsch Bush, a 70-year-old retired sociology professor and three-term state House member, campaigned as vigorously as one can these days while doing it mostly virtually. Boebert, a 33-year-old gun-rights advocate who never went to college and has never held public office, was born to show up in a pandemic. Defiance is her biography. She also ran as close to President Donald Trump as she could. While the Trump identification surely hurt Republican Cory Gardner statewide, who definitively lost his U.S. Senate seat to Democratic challenger and former governor John Hickenlooper, it did not seem to hobble Boebert in CD 3. So we have to assume it helped.
Now, Boebert is the choice of the people. What she will do in the Capitol as one of the farthest-right members of what still may be the House minority party, we don’t know. We got quite a few mailers targeting Mitsch Bush, from the Super-PAC of the Club for Growth, the D.C.-based free-market, anti-regulation conservative group, which maintained Mitsch Bush would be “sending our tax dollars up and way to China!” – so there is one thing we think Boebert won’t be doing, should the opportunity arise.
Elsewhere statewide, reintroducing gray wolves was surprising close as of this writing, leading by a 0.4% whisker, whereas we had thought Front Range voters, being most removed from the places where wolves might choose to live, would drive a wave of support for them.
Wolves just do not fit on the left-right continuum, it seems. Perhaps that’s for their own good.
When it came to taxes, a majority of our voters showed a rough common sense, based on 2.7 million or more votes from about 85% of precincts. The Gallagher Repeal, which promised – without raising taxes, it said – to do wonderful things by shifting some burden from business to residential property owners, was leading handily – and so was marginally cutting the state income tax rate. Requiring a vote on new, large, fee-based state enterprises was well ahead, as was increasing the tax on nicotine products, and taxing workers and employers to create a new, statewide program for family and medical leave. The last was a bridge too far even for some Democrats in the state Legislature – but not for a strong majority of Colorado voters.
It seems to us, then, that many voters took an à la carte approach. If you asked them to tax a specific thing, especially if they might not be its customers, as with nicotine, that was fine. If you asked them to raise a tax they might pay to get a specific thing, like family and medical leave, that seemed like a fair deal. And if you asked them to circumscribe the ability of the state Legislature to raise new revenue altogether, they said No as easily as they said Yes to flatly cutting the state tax.
They want to know what they’re buying and they’re not issuing blank checks – no mystery about it.