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Adam Frisch remains hopeful in underdog race that became a ‘national conversation’

CD-3 candidate shares campaign strategy and what he expects as final votes are counted
Adam Frisch is the Democratic nominee for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. He was locked in a close race with incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert as of Sunday. (Courtesy Adam for Colorado)

As final votes are tallied in the neck-and-neck race to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Democratic challenger Adam Frisch told The Durango Herald on Saturday that he is “sleeping well.”

“I feel bad because we get tweets and text messages and phone calls and emails about how everyone’s in a panic and how important this race is,” Frisch said, adding that he’s known since he decided to run against Boebert that he and his team “could make it very close and if we did, it was going to turn into a national conversation.”

With the election results still too close to call, Boebert is leading Frisch by a little over 1,100 votes as of Sunday morning. Election officials do not expect the winner to be determined until Thursday, at the earliest.

At this point, Frisch’s team estimates between 3,000 and 6,000 ballots remaining to be counted, including votes from overseas – both military and nonmilitary – and ballots cast by eligible voters that need to be cured. If an election judge notifies a voter of a technical error with that person’s ballot, such as a signature that does not match what is on file, the voter must correct the error by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 16 to have the vote counted.

Now, Frisch said he and his team have two priorities: ensuring that all ballots in need of curing are tracked down and raising money in case Boebert does not accept the results of the election and initiates an “expensive legal battle.”

“We’ve just been warned that if this gets very, very close, whether it’s a recount or not, we’re going to have to make sure that we’re well-resourced to defend ourselves, to defend the constitution of the United States, to defend the constitution of Colorado and to protect the voters that very well might choose us as the will of the people,” Frisch said.

The Herald reached out to Boebert’s campaign for comment, but a spokeswoman said the congresswoman is not doing any interviews.

A nationally recognized upset

In the lead-up to Election Day, pollsters anticipated that Boebert would defeat Frisch with minimal difficulty. A FiveThirtyEight analysis of the race gave Frisch only a 3% chance of winning the election; on an episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast released Thursday, senior elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich said a Frisch victory would be “one of the biggest upsets in the history of (the organization’s) model.”

“That brought a smile to my face,” Frisch said of listening to the episode.

Frisch, though, had anticipated that the race would be close all along: “I wasn’t really surprised, if I can say that without sounding like I’m lacking humility for a race that we should have lost being down by 10 points, but we knew we had a good game plan and we knew we were getting votes.”

In a Twitter Spaces interview with podcast host Brian Tyler Cohen on Saturday, Frisch said he decided to run against Boebert because she did not win her 2020 race by as large of a margin as similar candidates like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz; she earned 51% of the vote against Diane Mitsch Bush in CD-3, versus Greene’s 74.7% in her district and Gaetz’s 64.6%.

“I realized that actually this was the only place in the entire country, sadly, that we were going to have any chance of a mathematical ability to defeat an extremist,” Frisch told Cohen.

Dick Wadhams, former state chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and Republican political strategist, told the Herald on Nov. 9 that Boebert’s failure to cinch victory right away could be a sign that “some voters in the district felt like she paid more attention to her national profile than to the needs of the district.”

Frisch said it’s “a shame that Democrat and Republican strategists put zero value, basically, on how effective you are at the job,” citing a Pueblo Farm Bureau candidate forum in September and a Pueblo Action 22 conference in October as examples of local campaign events that Boebert missed to campaign for candidates running in other states.

“If you want to fly around the country making people mad, owning the libs, you do that after you return the phone calls of your constituents, you do that after you show up at the local meetings,” Frisch said, concluding that Boebert “hasn’t served.”

Boebert told CNN on Thursday that she thinks a general lack of support from Colorado’s Republican Party might have contributed to the closeness of the race.

“I don’t know if there wasn’t enough enthusiasm for our top ticket candidates for governor and Senate or what happened there,” she told CNN. “But there was a lot of shifting of the votes there.”

In response, Frisch told the Herald that he believes “when losers lose, they blame other people” and “when winners lose, they own that they were mostly responsible.” He said that the national Democratic Party, which offered him minimal funding or exposure during his campaign, has been “calling a lot lately” to acknowledge their lack of support.

“They’ve been very clear how well of a campaign everyone in D.C. knows we ran and everyone is very, very aware that nobody in D.C. did anything for us,” he said.

Looking ahead

“I’m going to run for president,” Frisch joked when the Herald asked about his next moves if he loses to Boebert. “No, I’m just kidding!”

Rather, he said his only agenda as of now is “to get through next Thursday or Friday” when all outstanding ballots are expected to be counted. The state of Colorado will conduct an automatic recount if the vote tally is within a 0.5% margin; if either candidate wins by more than that, both the Boebert and Frisch campaigns have the opportunity to self-fund a recount. The recount process could take until mid-December to complete.

If he is not elected to Congress, Frisch said he is “certainly not going to be making any definitive answers in the year of 2022” about his future plans in politics and public service.

“I also want to help the country and most importantly, I want to make sure I help the citizens of my neighborhood and my communities in the state, and so I’m sure my plan will be to figure out, after the dust settles, talking to a lot of people, looking at the numbers and some math,” Frisch said. “I’ll try to figure out how to remain active and involved in some sphere. Whether that’s elected or not, I do not know.”

Frisch added that he believes “regardless of what happens, we need to own that the team and myself put together an effort that sent a message that resonated across the country.”

“The question is, how do we continue that?” Frisch said. “Whether I’m serving in office or whether I’m not, and we’ll have those conversations at a later date.”

Kate Corliss is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at kcorliss@durangoherald.com.

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