The owner of a gun-themed restaurant who battled the city and state over coronavirus restrictions pulled off an upset Tuesday, defeating five-term Rep. Scott R. Tipton in Colorado’s Republican primary.
Lauren Boebert prevailed in the rural, conservative 3rd Congressional District over Tipton, a member of the tea party class of 2010 who had the endorsement of President Trump.
“Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November. I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well,” Tipton, who was trailing by more than 8,700 votes, said in conceding the race.
His defeat marks the third time a Trump-backed Republican has lost in the primary in recent weeks, along with Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) and North Carolina candidate Lynda Bennett.
In a tweet Tuesday, Trump told Boebert: “Congratulations on a really great win!”
Boebert, who also has flirted with the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory, will be favored in the November election against Diane Mitsch Bush, a former Democratic state legislator who ran against Tipton in 2018 and won the party’s nomination handily on Tuesday. Trump won the district by 12?percentage points in 2016.
Boebert, a gun rights activist, owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., where the staff carries their weapons as they serve customers, who can order a “Guac 9” burger or a “Turkey Ham Uzi Melt.”
Boebert is among a handful of Republican candidates who have toyed with the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory that a secret government official named “Q” is revealing a corrupt “deep state” that Trump is fighting against to save the country. Boebert hasn’t gone as far as some others, like Georgia House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a professed believer, but during an interview on a QAnon-aligned show said she hoped the theories were true.
“Everything I’ve heard of Q — I hope this is real,” Boebert told the QAnon-aligned Web interview show “Steel Truth” last month. “Because it only means America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values.”
Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the House Democrats campaign arm, said in a statement Tuesday night that her GOP colleagues should renounce Boebert.
“Not even multiple endorsements from President Trump could save Congressman Scott R. Tipton from his extreme, QAnon caucus challenger. Washington Republicans should immediately disavow Lauren Boebert and her extremist, dangerous conspiracy theories,” Bustos said.
Boebert boasts in her social media profile and on her campaign website that she confronted former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who supported banning and confiscating assault weapons, and told him: “Hell, no, you won’t take our guns.”
More recently, she defied the state’s coronavirus restrictions and refused to close her restaurant to dine-in patrons, forcing county officials to obtain a cease-and-desist letter from a district judge to shut her down.
She ran against Tipton from the right, accusing the conservative lawmaker of siding with liberal politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) by supporting a recent coronavirus relief bill sponsored by Democrats to help communities with fewer than 500,000 people recover from the crisis.
Boebert pitched herself to voters as an answer to Ocasio-Cortez and jumped into the race by branding Tipton as too weak to stand up to Democrats. In an early interview, she expressed concern that Tipton, as a member of the House minority, matter-of-factly said that Democrats were running one of his committees.
According to pre-election campaign finance filings, Boebert spent less than $120,000 on her campaign, about a fifth as much as Tipton. Her TV advertising introduced her as a conservative mom who would “stand up to all the left-wing lunatics” in Washington.
Tipton, a fiscal conservative who kept a low profile, is the fourth member of Congress to lose their primary so far this year. The others are Riggleman, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.).