Can Democrat Adam Frisch beat Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert?
Up front, I should admit that I am not a Boebert fan. Her rhetoric makes gridlock easy and problem-solving hard. Clearly, I have a bias. But as a retired research professional, I can acknowledge it, then set it aside.
I won’t say Frisch can’t win, but it is fair to say it is quite unlikely.
Boebert has superior name recognition, the power of incumbency, a war chest that dwarfs Frisch’s and a congressional district that already leans clearly Republican.
To have a chance, Frisch must act now on these five measures, then do much more.
• He must define himself before Republicans do.
Republicans will paint him as a socialist. They will use media to repeat this again and again. Even though Frisch is a moderate, their socialist theme will stick because Republicans believe that Democrats are too far left.
However, new research predicts when voters are unfamiliar with a candidate, they can be persuaded to cross party lines. Frisch must spend heavily – now – to inform voters about who he is. Just “explaining” his moderate policies through the press or to those showing up for his events isn’t enough.
• He shouldn’t duck his Aspen ski-town background. Instead, use it as an asset.
Frisch seems aware of the problem. According to Charles Ashby’s interview in Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel, Frisch “admits that he is a rich, white resident of a mountain ski town.” But acknowledgment is only half the battle. Frisch’s background gave him the opportunity to learn about the character and values of rural Coloradoans. Voters will listen to a compelling life story.
• He must stay away from lengthy, wonky policy lingo.
Frisch will explain how to make Western Colorado better. The limits of Boebert’s knowledge of policy are evident. Democrats say she is more interested in self-promotion. Since most low-information voters don’t like politics, they don’t devote much time to policy details.
Yes, Frisch should have policy detail available for those seeking it. Boebert has the ability to recite her views within the attention span of low-information voters. Without this ability, Frisch will see voters’ eyes glaze over. He will lose them.
• The importance of individual responsibility must be part of his stump speech.
City folk don’t get it. People in rural communities accept individual responsibility and help their neighbors before asking the government for help. Extremists talk endlessly about freedom, but never mention the responsibility to the community that comes with it. One person’s freedom can diminish another’s. Freedom must be anchored in responsibility. Frisch must repeatedly let voters know he stands with them when it comes to individual responsibility.
• Take up the cause of independent voters.
The unaffiliated vote in the 3rd Congressional District is central to his chances. These days, there is a sizable group who are disgusted with both parties. They don’t want party clones. They want to get things done and end gridlock. Frisch should call for including independents in campaign and election oversight. Neither party can be left in charge to decide when election violations occur since they have a stake in the outcome.
Frisch is a long shot, but there is hope. Between non-extremist Republicans, registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters, there is a narrow path to victory. And who knows what surprises await us in the next 3 1/2 months.
Steve Mandell of Montrose is a former research director for a Fortune 500 company and a member of restorethebalance.org, a nonprofit that focuses on the danger of political extremism. His opinions here are his own.