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Top Republican at Colorado Capitol jumps into crowded 4th Congressional District race

House Minority Leader Mike Lynch’s announcement comes a week after U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert said she was abandoning her 3rd Congressional District reelection bid to run in the 4th District
Mike Lynch during the 2023 legislative session, Jan., 9, 2023, in the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Mike Lynch, the top Republican in the Colorado House of Representatives, jumped Wednesday into the GOP primary this year in the 4th Congressional District, a race that has picked up national attention after U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert announced last week she would abandon her current congressional district to run for the 4th District seat.

Lynch, who lives in Wellington, is the minority leader in the Colorado House. He plans to stay in that role during his congressional bid.

“I’m sick of being represented by people that are not sincere in their service,” Lynch told The Colorado Sun. “I think what’s wrong with this country is (Congress) has become a job where your first concern is yourself. I think the people of CD4 deserve to have somebody that’s fighting for them who knows how to do it.”

The 4th District seat will be open after U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, announced Nov. 1 that he wouldn’t run for reelection this year, citing the GOP’s embrace of election conspiracies and Congress’ inability to get work done.

The 4th District, which spans the Eastern Plains and includes much of Douglas County and Loveland, is considered the most Republican congressional district in Colorado, a state that has recently been dominated by Democrats. The 4th District leans 27 points in the GOP’s favor, according to a nonpartisan analysis of election results from 2016 to 2020 by staffers for the Colorado legislature.

Boebert, who was facing dim reelection prospects in her 3rd Congressional District, which is mostly on the Western Slope, announced last week that she would run in the 4th District instead. Although she’s not required to live in the district, the congresswoman said she plans to move there in the coming months from Garfield County.

Lynch said he’s not deterred by the congresswoman’s entrance into the race and that he plans to spend more time talking about what he will get done in Washington as opposed to focusing on what Boebert has been unable to accomplish.

If elected, Lynch said he wants to focus on water issues, securing the U.S.-Mexico border and addressing crime and drug use. He said he would want to serve on the House Armed Services and Agriculture committees.

“There’s a lot you can do from the national level,” he said, explaining that on water he wants to be part of Colorado River use negotiations and be involved with Army Corps of Engineers decisions. “I’ve been wanting to serve at this level since I was in junior high.”

Lynch, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said his combined experience and success in agriculture, the military and at the statehouse set him apart from other candidates in the Republican primary.

“I’ve got more of all the components than any of the other candidates,” said Lynch, who grew up on a family ranch and now has a ranch of his own.

Lynch said he supports the inquiry into impeaching President Joe Biden.

“Depending on what it puts out there, I would be in favor of impeachment if it’s proven that that’s a good case,” he said.

In addition to Boebert, Lynch joins a long list of Republicans vying to replace Buck, including:

  • Former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. He’s currently a Logan County commissioner.
  • State Rep. Richard Holtorf of Akron
  • Conservative talk radio host Deborah Flora
  • Former state Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch

Assuming all of the Republican candidates running in the 4th District make the ballot – they must either collect 1,500 Republican voter signatures or secure a spot through the caucus and assembly process – the large field could work to Boebert’s advantage.

The congresswoman’s challengers will be battling for the anti-Boebert vote, which may in turn block any one of them from exceeding her vote total.

“I think that’s a mathematical certainty – that every credible candidate who gets in there and peels off 5-10% from the other candidates makes it that much more likely that Lauren wins,” said former state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Republican who lives near the town of Wray, which is in the 4th District.

Brophy, who is supporting Sonnenberg, said another candidate could break through in the crowded race, but they would have to spend a lot of money to combat Boebert’s name recognition.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the U.S. House GOP campaign arm, told The Sun on Tuesday that it views Boebert as an incumbent, even though she’s running in a new district.

It’s unclear if that status will come with financial or other support in the primary.

Meanwhile, Boebert’s departure in the 3rd District race has prompted other Republicans to eye the seat. State Rep. Ron Hanks, an election conspiracy theorist who lost in Colorado’s 2022 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, announced his campaign Friday.

State Rep. Matt Soper of Delta, told The Sun last week he’s “seriously interested in jumping into the race.” Colorado Board of Education member Stephen Varela of Pueblo, who ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat in 2022, also said he is “strongly considering the race.”

Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, who is supported by a number of big-name Republicans, including former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, was already running in the GOP primary in the 3rd District when Boebert announced her switch.

Colorado’s congressional primary elections will be held June 25.

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