Candidates vying to replace Lauren Boebert face off in bipartisan virtual forum


By Sara Wilson, Colorado Newsline

June 9, 2022

Five candidates for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district faced off Wednesday night in a rare virtual forum that included both Democrats and Republicans ahead of the party’s primaries.

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The forum, organized by the League of Colorado Women Voters and moderated by Agenda 22 CEO Sara Blackhurst, allowed candidates to lay out their political priorities and qualifications to represent the district, which encompasses the West Slope and swings east into the San Luis Valley and Pueblo. County.

It also gave four of the congressional candidates a chance to explain why they are a better fit than controversial incumbent Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Silt who is running for a second term.

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“There is no doubt that our current candidate representing our district is the angry leader of the entertainment industry, spending his time firing people on Twitter, firing people on cable news channels, and never not focusing on the neighborhood’s water needs, the immigration process, gun protection, inflation,” said Adam Frisch, former Aspen City Councilman. “We need people who are going to make it happen and take this job seriously, without embarrassing us and our neighbors.”

Boebert faces a primary challenger in the state, Senator Don Coram of Montrose. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will face Frisch, Pueblo community organizer Sol Sandoval or political newcomer Alex Walker in the general election.

Sandoval appealed to voters in the district by sharing his experience of living paycheck to paycheck, not being able to pay for health care and coping with student loans – common circumstances of class Americans average struggling with inflation and the rising cost of living.

“We need to elect someone who is going to fight like hell for everyone,” she said. “I’m running because no one is coming to save us. We have to save ourselves.” Sandoval said she would have voted for both the recent federal budget bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress — which Boebert voted against — to bring money and jobs into the district.

Walker, who has called himself “politically homeless” and also describes himself as a moderate, said he subscribes to a set of values ​​over partisan issues. “Those values,” he said, “include free markets, freedom of health care, and access to health care. This strategy of refusing to toe the Democratic party line is how he hopes to connect with unaffiliated voters in the district, who make up the largest electoral bloc.”

“I see two broken parties and an opportunity to bring common sense back to Washington,” he said. “I will push back what is broken in both parts.”

Coram also appealed to the “middle 80%” of voters who don’t sit on the far right or left and who he says are being ignored by their elected officials. He pointed to instances of bipartisanship and his track record as a “negotiator” and “facilitator” in the Colorado General Assembly.

“Loud rhetoric and the promotion of hatred and division will not solve the problems we face in the United States today, and especially in the 3rd District,” he said.

Water at the heart of concerns

Boebert, on the other hand, has unapologetically asserted her status as a conservative and argued that any vote against her in the primary or general election is a “vote for (President) Joe Biden.” She reiterated her common talking points that Americans are “paying the price” for the “failed policies” of Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Asked about federal policies to reduce gun violence, the Democratic candidates talked about responsible gun ownership, which Walker said, “is not a pipe dream.”

Sandoval, who has said he owns guns and supports the Second Amendment, supports expanded background checks and red flag laws.

“With all rights comes responsibility. And let’s face it: enough is enough,” she said of gun violence like the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

Meanwhile, Boebert argued that remaining COVID-19 relief funds sent to schools should be used to bolster school safety. Coram said leaders should focus on mental health and enforce existing gun regulations.

Responding to a question about their top two political priorities if elected, Coram, Walker and Frisch specifically mentioned water policy, but all five candidates expressed concern about water issues in general.

“For years, Colorado and the West have suffered from drought,” Boebert said. “I support increased water storage, such as the Wolf Creek Reservoir in Moffat County and worthwhile distribution projects that will provide clean water in times of drought. I am a strong advocate for protecting water rights of local communities and the maintenance of their water in the 3rd district.”

Walker wants to see more legislation to encourage “grey water” recycling systems and the use of federal funds to capture that water and reuse it. He also talked about the link between water and climate disasters, such as the increase in forest fires.

“We are about to be consumed by wildfires,” so water conservation and deployment will save lives, he said. “Any contestant who doesn’t get water like the back of their hand should be disqualified from this race.” Walker’s background is in mechanical engineering.

Candidates also answered questions about abortion access, immigration, prescription drug prices and the use of federal lands for oil and gas drilling. A recording of the forum is available on the League of Women Voters of Colorado YouTube page.

Boebert leads all five candidates in fundraising overall, with Sandoval leading the Democrats.

The primary election will take place on June 28, but voters should expect their mail-in ballots to arrive soon. Unaffiliated voters, if they have not already shortlisted a race, can vote in either primaries.

Democracy only works when people have access to reliable information about government and society. Colorado Newsline’s mission is to be a trusted source of such information. Newsline is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent, and it provides fair and accurate reporting on politics, politics, and other stories of interest to Colorado readers.


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