By BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — A gun rights advocate known for defying Colorado’s lockdown orders at her open-carry restaurant won a primary on Tuesday over a GOP congressman endorsed by President Donald Trump.
Lauren Boebert, 34, had been considered a long shot, even in a deep-red district, against Rep. Scott Tipton, a moderate who’s served in Congress since 2011.
“3rd District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November,” Tipton said in a statement. “I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”
Boebert owns Shooter’s Grill, the Rifle, Colorado, restaurant where servers are encouraged to carry firearms.
“I wanted to start carrying just for my protection. This is my establishment, so I didn’t see anything wrong with that,” Boebert told ABC News in a 2014 interview. “I began to open carry.”
She gained more attention recently for defying Colorado’s coronavirus restrictions, prompting several cease-and-desist orders and a legal fight.
In 2019, she also made headlines for a confrontation with Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke over his proposed mandatory buyback of assault weapons.
“I was one of the gun-owning Americans that heard your speech and heard what you had to say,” she said last September. “I am here to say, ‘Hell no, you’re not."”
Although Trump endorsed Tipton twice on Twitter, Boebert’s website prominently featured an endorsement from “Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump” and was endorsed by former conservative congressman Tom Tancredo.
Trump, who also saw a House candidate he endorsed lose in North Carolina last week to a 24-year-old motivational speaker, congratulated Boebert on her victory Wednesday.
Congratulations on a really great win! https://t.co/rMpFiV6LvY
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
Boebert attacked Tipton over his support for a $250 billion coronavirus relief package for small cities, accusing him of “teaming up with AOC and her Squad” to cosponsor the bill, which had four additional GOP cosponsors and has not received a vote.
She also assailed him for “joining” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in voting for a House bill that would provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented farm workers, calling the measure that passed in the House in December “amnesty.”
Boebert’s campaign did not respond to a request for an interview from ABC News.
She’s one of a handful of GOP House and Senate primary winners to have spoken favorably about the QAnon conspiracy theory, which, among other conspiracies, baselessly alleges Trump is fighting a shadowy “deep state” working to take over the government and enabling child sex trafficking rings run by Democrats.
“I hope that this is real,” she said on an online show. “It only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values, and that’s what I am for.”
Democrats said on Wednesday that Boebert’s win would give them an opportunity to make the race more competitive, pointing to the fundraising strength of candidate Diane Mitsch Bush, who lost to Tipton by 8 points in 2018. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign apparatus for House Democrats, also called on Republicans to disavow Boebert over her conspiracy theory-related comments.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republicans’ campaign arm, said in a statement that Boebert “has our support.” An NRCC spokesman referred ABC News to Emmer’s statement when asked to elaborate on Boebert’s comments.
Trump won Colorado’s 3rd District in 2016 with 52% of the vote compared with 40% for Hillary Clinton, who won four of the state’s seven congressional districts.
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