‘Sideshow at a carnival’: Colorado lawmakers aren't happy with Lauren Boebert

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert on Tuesday interrupted President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address, when he was speaking about his deceased son, to blame Biden for the death of service members.
As Biden was talking about cancer that put service members in a “flag-draped coffin,” Boebert yelled, “You put them in. Thirteen of them!” according to AP News.

Boebert’s outburst was harshly criticized by Democrats.

Some Democrats booed Boebert, with one lawmaker calling for Boebert to be kicked out.

“The State of the Union is a storied and important American tradition, and one that warrants decorum and the respect of everyone attending on both sides of the aisle,” Sally Tucker, the communications director for Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat who represents the 2nd Congressional District, wrote in an email to Newsline. “The Congressman believes that the Congresswoman’s outburst was beyond the pale and disrespectful to both the President and to Coloradans of all political affiliations who watched the proceedings to hear about issues of both national and international importance.”

“Representative Boebert is a courageous woman with strongly held beliefs, and I know from personal conversations that her feelings came from a place of genuine outrage and a perception that President Biden was being given a pass on his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents the 4th District, said in a statement emailed to Newsline from his press secretary.

“However, I am a firm believer in decorum, and I believe that we have seen a lack of it as our politics have become increasingly toxic during recent years,” Buck said. “The State of the Union is not a time for theater, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi treated it by ripping up President Trump’s speech while directly behind him for the cameras. Congress is not a focus group, as both parties have acted while booing and chanting during presidential addresses for years now. It is also not a time for heckling, as Lauren unfortunately did last night.”

– Rep. Ken Buck

During a press conference after Biden’s speech last night, Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat from the 6th District, called Boebert’s interruption “entirely inappropriate,” and said he would encourage her to “stop the outbursts.” Crow called Boebert’s interruption a stain on her.

“Congresswoman Boebert’s outburst was uncalled for and would have been inappropriate at any time during such an event, but certainly as President Biden was talking as a parent about the loss of a child and how our country can better help Veterans,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat of the 7th District, said via a statement emailed to Newsline from his communications director.

“This is a moment of great challenge for the nation and the world, and it is hard to see how her disgraceful behavior helps anybody living in Colorado,” Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, said in a statement emailed to Newsline by his state deputy communications director.

Congresswoman Boebert’s outburst was uncalled for and would have been inappropriate at any time during such an event, but certainly as President Biden was talking as a parent about the loss of a child and how our country can better help Veterans.

– Rep. Ed Perlmutter

Upcoming election

Marina Zimmerman, who is running to unseat Boebert in this year’s Republican primary, tweeted that Boebert “humiliated our great state in front of millions of viewers” by attacking Biden as he was talking about his dead son. “If members of Congress can come together & condemn her in a bipartisan fashion, we will unseat her the same way,” Zimmerman tweeted.

“Whether you agree or disagree with Joe Biden and his State of the Union Address, Lauren Boebert’s actions were embarrassing to all of us who call Colorado home,” state Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose), a Republican who is also running against Boebert in the primary, said in a statement Wednesday. “Her juvenile behavior and antics for attention are better served in a junior high school or a side show at a carnival. Her lack of respect for the people she represents and the institution she serves is obvious.”

– State Sen. Don Coram

“Regardless of our politics, Lauren Boebert heckling President Biden while he spoke about his dead son, an Army veteran, isn’t just disrespectful to him personally as a grieving father, it’s disrespectful to our service members,” Sol Sandoval, who is running in the Democratic primary for the 3rd District, tweeted Tuesday.

State Rep. Donald Valdez (D-La Jara), who is also running in the Democratic primary, wrote, “Let’s send her home!” in a tweet.

The primary is June 28 and the general election is Nov. 8.

About the speech

Biden was speaking about his son, Beau Biden, who served in the Iraq War and died of brain cancer in 2015.

“When they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors were never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness,” Biden said in his address. “A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know. One of those soldiers was my son Major Beau Biden.”

When asked for a comment about the criticism that Boebert, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, has received over her comments, Jake Settle, Boebert’s press secretary, directed Newsline to two of Boebert’s tweets.

“When Biden said flag draped coffins I couldn’t stay silent,” Boebert tweeted from her personal account Tuesday night. “I told him directly he did it. He put 13 in there.”

“The left is pissed because I called out Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan that left 13 of America’s finest in a flag-draped coffin,” Boebert tweeted Wednesday morning.

Boebert was referring to the terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport last summer, where 13 American service members were killed in a bomb attack, according to NPR.

During the speech, both Boebert and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, stood up and yelled “build the wall” when Biden was speaking about immigration policy. Greene gave a speech at a far-right conference that has ties to white supremacy last weekend.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on MSNBC Greene and Boebert’s heckling says a lot more about them than it does about how important the priorities Biden spoke about are.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Colorado Republican accuses Kamala Harris of ‘anti-Semitic worldview’

The controversy began when Vice President Kamala Harris recently took questions while at George Mason University to discuss voting rights. A student spoke about U.S. funding of Israel and referred to Israel as an “ethnic genocide and a displacement of people," according to CNN. The student said they felt the need to bring it up because it affects their life and the lives of people they really care about, according to CNN.

Harris responded “I'm glad you did."

Republican U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn, of Colorado Springs, and Joe Wilson, of South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, wrote a letter to Harris on Oct. 6, condemning her “Anti-Israel comments."

Harris is married to Doug Emhoff, who is the first Jewish spouse of any U.S. president or vice president, according to ABC News.

Harris responded to the student by stating, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard," according to the letter.

In the letter, Lamborn and Wilson said the student was referring to the funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system, which “House Progressives demanded" the funding for be removed. They called the demand for the removal of U.S. funding “anti-Semitic action," and said it prompted the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 5323, which allocated $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome's missile supply. “This funding is critical to reducing conflict within the region and protecting the innocent lives of Israeli citizens," they wrote in the letter.

“Furthermore, your affirmation of her remarks are not only based on an anti-Semitic worldview, they are a lie," Lamborn and Wilson wrote. “Truth is not subjective but based on facts. Israel is not in any way, shape, or form committing ethnic genocide. Israel has an absolute right to defend itself."

According to CNN, Symone Sanders, the spokesperson for Harris, said the “vice president strongly disagrees with the student's characterization of Israel."

“Throughout her career, the Vice President has been unwavering in her commitment to Israel and to Israel's security," Sanders said, according to CNN. “While visiting George Mason University to discuss voting rights, a student voiced a personal opinion during a political science class."

“I am extremely disappointed in the anti-Israel comments made by VP Harris last week," Lamborn said in an Oct. 7 press release. “The Democratic party is growing increasingly anti-Semitic, and I am deeply concerned that her comments will fuel this sentiment."

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, a group that works to stop the defamation of Jewish people, tweeted on Sept. 30 that he spoke with Harris and she confirmed that she knows the claim of Israel committing ethnic genocide is “patently false."

The Republicans' letter ended with a request from Lamborn and Wilson for Harris to apologize, pledge to fight antisemitism, and work to support Israel.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Lauren Boebert's sole Republican challenger wants a return to 'ethical representation'

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.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.