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How did the Boebert-Frisch race get so close?

Frisch leads despite expectations that Boebert would cinch reelection
Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado speaks during a debate at the Sky Ute Resort and Casino in Ignacio at May 26, 2022. (William Woody for Colorado Newsline, file)

Incumbent U.S. House Rep. Lauren Boebert was expected to win her bid for reelection in a landslide, but with 95% of ballots counted, her Democrat challenger Adam Frisch was ahead Wednesday night by fewer than 100 votes.

Frisch’s narrow lead comes as a surprise after redistricting in Southwest Colorado left Republicans with a 9-point advantage in the 3rd Congressional District. An analysis from FiveThirtyEight estimated, based on polling data, that Boebert had a 97-in-100 chance of winning a second term.

Boebert, whose reelection campaign was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, raised nearly $3 million more than Frisch over the course of the election cycle. Frisch received minimal financial support from the Democratic Party as a result of Boebert’s significant polling advantages, which leaves many voters asking how the competition between the candidates became so neck-and-neck.

Former Colorado Republican Party state chairman and Republican political strategist Dick Wadhams said Frisch’s campaign “successfully played down any perceptions of being a more liberal Democrat from Aspen and convinced people that he was more of a moderate Democrat.”

Still, Wadhams said, he did not expect the race to be so close – let alone in Frisch’s favor.

“I felt that he would do well, but I didn’t think he could come close to winning or outright win,” Wadhams said Wednesday in an interview with The Durango Herald.

After Boebert’s victory in Republican primary election, during which she scored two-thirds of the vote against her opponent Don Coram, Wadhams told the Herald that Boebert should “think about that 30% of the Republican electorate that voted against her” and how to earn their support in the lead-up to Election Day.

Given her nationwide name recognition and popularity among prominent Republican figures, he said it is possible that is an area where she could have lost voters.

“Given what we’ve seen the past day or two, if some voters in the district felt like she paid more attention to her national profile than to the needs of the district, I mean, that’s something you always have to think about,” Wadhams said Wednesday.

With votes still being counted Wednesday in Pueblo and Mesa counties, Wadhams said the outcome of the election “can certainly go either way.”

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Frisch acknowledged the campaign “still has a lot of work ahead as ballots are still being counted” but thanked his voters for their support.

“We are still waiting for every vote to be counted, but the lead we hold this morning is because of the support of each and every one of you,” the statement reads. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to offer you my deepest appreciation.”

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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