Rep. Lauren Boebert, the incumbent in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, is facing an unlikely opponent for the 2022 election: a fellow conservative Republican. Marina Zimmerman, of Arboles, is running in 2022 to represent the 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and will face Boebert in the Republican primary. Zimmerman is Boebert's only Republican challenger as of Aug. 26.
Zimmerman spent over 20 years as a crane operator in industrial construction. “The middle class has been really neglected by Washington for a long time. I really have that strong working class background, and I have the education to do the job, as well," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, she said. “I believe our elections were fair and they were accurate," Zimmerman said when asked who she believes won the 2020 presidential election. “Biden won the election."
She is not a supporter of former President Donald Trump and has never voted for Trump, she said.
“Honesty and integrity are some things we've lost in the last four years," Zimmerman said. “Those things are important. The truth is important, we may not always like it, but the truth is very important."
Zimmerman did an internship with a former representative of the 3rd District, Democrat John Salazar, she said.
Zimmerman is an avid supporter of gun rights. She is a gun owner, but supports universal background checks.
“The first thing I would do is to make sure we protect our children as well as the elites protect their money-makers," Zimmerman said when asked what she would do to protect Coloradans, specifically residents living in the 3rd District, from gun violence. “When you go into a concert or a sporting event or anything like that, you have to go through metal detectors and have your bag searched. There are all kinds of measures to protect those folks from gun violence. I think that's the least we can do for our kids. We need to do at least that to protect them. Taking guns from law-abiding gun owners will not protect them."
“I believe in the Second Amendment. I'm a gun owner," Zimmerman said.
When asked what she would do to prevent an attack like the March 22 Boulder Kings Soopers shooting from happening again, she suggested helping children with their mental health at an early age. “I think it should start early with mental health. We have to start being more proactive with helping kids in the early stages of mental health. I think that's a big part of it, and that's where you have to start," Zimmerman said.
“When you're talking about someplace like King Soopers or a place where people come and go, I think that falls into the mental health issue," Zimmerman said. “I'm not opposed to background checks, but I still don't think criminals are getting background checks and you can't always know if someone is mentally disturbed and shouldn't have (a firearm)."
Zimmerman does not support abortion after 16 weeks, unless the abortion is for the health of the mother or baby, she said.
“After 16 weeks, I cannot imagine, 'just because' to get an abortion," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman acknowledges that Colorado has gotten hotter, and droughts in Colorado are longer.
“I believe that there is a certain period of time that climates do change on their own. It's just a fact. But I think a lot of the things that we as humans have done have hastened that climate change," Zimmerman said when asked if she believes climate change is human-caused. “I think it happens anyway, but not quite as fast."
She suggested upgrading reservoirs and upgrading agriculture equipment so there isn't as much water waste as potential ways to help combat climate change. She also likes the “grand bargain."
The grand bargain refers to a potential change to the 1922 Colorado River Compact, which currently allows states in the lower basin of the Colorado River to demand more water from areas in the upper basin of the river, and the states in the upper basin, which includes Colorado, have a legal obligation to provide the water. The grand bargain would no longer require states in the upper basin to provide water to areas in the lower basin, and in exchange, states in the lower basin would be guaranteed a certain amount of water.
Zimmerman also thinks “the push" for electric vehicles will help combat climate change.
“There are a lot of innovative things that we can do. I'm not an expert in climate change, but I do know that it is getting warmer, and we do need to start being more active in trying to do things to help our environment."
Droughts and increasing temperatures have persisted in Colorado and other states in the West for about two decades and are largely driven by human-caused climate change.
Zimmerman received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, she said on Twitter.
“I support anything that's going to keep Americans safe," Zimmerman said when asked if she supports Gov. Jared Polis' COVID-19 guidelines.
Zimmerman is “torn" on whether the Robert F. Burford Bureau of Land Management Headquarters should stay in Grand Junction.
“From everything I'm reading, it was moved to Grand Junction in order to dismantle it. If that's the case, then it should not (stay in Grand Junction)," Zimmerman said. However, she does see the point that the headquarters should be in the West.
“If what I'm hearing, that the reason Trump wanted to move it was to dismantle it, then no, but if that's not the truth, then I think Grand Junction is a good place for it," Zimmerman said.
In 2020, the Bureau of Land Management headquarters was moved to Grand Junction, but only three employees actually made the move from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Bureau of Land Management officials said. Earlier this year, Boebert introduced the “Local Opportunities, Conservation, and American Lands Act" (LOCAL Act) to keep the headquarters of BLM in Grand Junction. “Westerners deserve a voice in the land-use decisions that affect their lives daily. I am proud to introduce the LOCAL Act to ensure that our local communities have access to the decision-makers at the Bureau of Land Management headquarters," Boebert said in a March 19 press release. “Since 99% of the lands that the Bureau manages are West of the Mississippi, it only makes sense to have the agency located close to the communities it serves."
Several representatives supported Boebert's legislation, including Ken Buck, who represents Colorado's 4th Congressional District, and Doug Lamborn, who represents Colorado's 5th Congressional District.
Disagreement with state party chair
Zimmerman thinks 3rd District constituents deserve better representation than they have now with Boebert.
“The only thing that seems to be important to her is trafficking in QAnon conspiracy theories and some really ugly political theater," Zimmerman said regarding Boebert.
“My goal is to bring back the concept that elected officials are elected to Congress to serve people, not themselves," Zimmerman said. “My goal is to bring solid, ethical representation back to District 3, and I don't think we have that now."
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that falsely alleges that the world is run by a “cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles," according to The New York Times. While Boebert has been accused of supporting QAnon theories, she has denied being a follower of it. “I'm not a follower. This is just a fake attack from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. QAnon is a lot of things to different people. I was very vague in what I said before," Boebert said, according to KDVR. “I'm not into conspiracies. I'm into freedom and the Constitution of the United States of America. I'm not a follower," Boebert said.
Boebert owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, which temporarily lost its license last year after Boebert refused to close the restaurant despite public health orders banning on-site dining during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boebert and her team did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Not everyone is happy to see Zimmerman run. According to Zimmerman, Kristi Burton Brown, the chairperson of the Colorado Republican Party, tried to pressure Zimmerman to “get out of the race, and run for a seat in the Colorado Legislature instead," Zimmerman told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Zimmerman said that in a Zoom call, she told Burton Brown why she was running and Burton Brown said, “Well, I don't think that you should run in this race. I think that you should check out the state races."
“She wanted me to pull out and go for a state position," Zimmerman said. In the call, Burton Brown talked to Zimmerman about transferring contributions from her federal campaign into a state campaign, and said she would look into whether Zimmerman would be able to do that, Zimmerman said. She said that Burton Brown sent her a “go bag," including instructions and information, for the state race.
The conversation about switching to the state legislative race happened on a Zoom call, but an email in which Burton Brown sent Zimmerman a state go bag “proves" Burton Brown was trying to get Zimmerman to switch races, Zimmerman said.
The email exchange between Zimmerman and Burton Brown, shared by Zimmerman with Newsline, indicate that on June 18, Burton Brown sent Zimmerman the state legislative virtual candidate “go bag." The email exchange also indicates that Burton Brown found, after looking into the matter, that money in a federal campaign account cannot be transferred to a state campaign account.
Both Burton Brown and Joe Jackson, the executive director of the Colorado Republican Party, denied this happened, according to the Sentinel. The Sentinel reported that in an email, Jackson wrote, “I want to be clear that Kristi did not tell Marina not to run for Congress in CD-03. The chair of the Colorado GOP always meets with candidates or potential candidates who want to discuss a race they are interested in, as well as other races in their area that we need strong candidates to run for."
According to Zimmerman, Burton Brown was the one who mentioned switching to the state race. “I never brought it up to her, as a matter of fact, I was pretty shocked and a bit disheartened when she highly suggested it," Zimmerman said.
Neither Jackson nor Burton Brown responded to repeated requests from Newsline for a comment.
Zimmerman said that Boebert and Burton Brown are friends, which she suggested might be the reason for Burton Brown trying to get Zimmerman to drop out of the race.
Boebert raises almost $1 million
The head of the Republican Party in the 3rd District's most populous county has his own disagreement with Zimmerman. Kevin McCarney, chairman of the Mesa County GOP, is frustrated with Zimmerman's complaints about not being invited to a dinner, which McCarney said the party did not send out any invitations to. The Mesa County GOP raised $40,000 at the dinner, and Boebert was one of the guest speakers.
McCarney said Zimmerman has only contacted the Mesa County GOP to complain about not getting invited to the dinner.
“We have a standing invitation for people to come to every event that we have, we don't care who the candidate is," McCarney said. The only time they issue formal invitations is if they are hosting a debate involving that candidate.
“She hasn't talked to anybody on this board in Mesa County, at all, other than to complain about not getting invited to the dinner," McCarney said.
The Mesa County GOP has had “four or five events" since the dinner, but Zimmerman hasn't shown up or talked to them, according to McCarney. “It's very frustrating to me because we don't endorse anyone until after the primary and I pride myself on that. We have an overabundance of candidates and we let the voters decide, that's their job."
McCarney said he would be happy to speak to Zimmerman if she were to reach out. “I've talked to all types of candidates and the only word I have to tell them is to run. Let the voters decide. That's my job as the chairman of the Republican Party here."
The Mesa County GOP has a good relationship with Boebert, according to McCarney.
McCarney always welcomes anybody who wants to run for office, he said.
Zimmerman said she has tried to contact the Mesa County GOP through its website, but never heard back.
She attempted to purchase a ticket to attend the dinner, but was unable to do so. “I went on the site to get a ticket, it said the VIPs were sold out but the rest of the tickets were available," Zimmerman said. She went to get a ticket, but the website said she needed an access number. “That's when I contacted like three different people there and asked for an access number so that I could buy a ticket, and was told that I couldn't have an access number because they were sold out," Zimmerman said.
The Mesa County GOP will not endorse a candidate in a contested primary, McCarney said.
Boebert has raised $949,086 between April 1 and June 30, according to her FEC July Quarterly Report documents. Democratic candidate Kerry Donovan, who raised the most amount of all Democratic candidates running for the 3rd District, raised $535,751 in the July quarter, according to FEC documents. Zimmerman filed her statement of candidacy with the FEC on April 9, but as of Aug. 26, she had filed no financial documents yet.
“We're just now getting everything together. I've just now gotten a great team together, and we're starting to do our heavy fundraising," Zimmerman said. “So far, friends and family have sustained it, a little bit here and little bit there, so we don't have great amounts of funds yet. It's a $5,000 limit, and so we will file shortly, but we're just now getting everything into gear."
“My values really center around integrity and truth and I value the Constitution tremendously, and freedom for American people," Zimmerman said.
The 3rd District has a population of 756,569, according to census data. The district has 50,846 civilian veterans living there, as of 2019, which is 8.5% of the population in the district. For context, 8.2% of Coloradans have veteran status, and 6.9% of Americans have veteran status. 70% of residents living in the district are white and 1% are Black, according to the Census Reporter.
The primaries for this election are on June 28, 2022, and the general election is on Nov. 8, 2022.
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