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Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert

Businesswoman Lauren Boebert, who runs a gun-themed restaurant where servers openly carry firearms, has defeated Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton in a stunning upset in Tuesday's Republican primary. With most votes counted, Boebert leads 54-46, prompting Tipton to concede.

There was no reason to think the ultra-conservative congressman would have any issues winning renomination: Shortly after Boebert launched her campaign in December, Tipton earned a coveted Trump endorsement tweet—usually more than enough to ward off any trouble. Like a classic Republican outsider, Boebert attacked the incumbent for his supposed eagerness to compromise with Democrats and his allegedly insufficient loyalty to Trump, despite that tweet. And like a classic Republican outsider, she raised almost no money, just $133,000 to Tipton's $1.1 million.

But Boebert had a flare for capturing the attention of the media. Last year, she confronted Beto O'Rourke at an event in Colorado during the former Texas congressman's short-lived presidential bid. Challenging O'Rourke's plan for a mandatory buyback of high-powered rifles, Boebert declared, "I was one of the gun owning Americans who heard you speak regarding your 'Hell yes I'm going to take your AR-15s and AK-47s.' Well, I'm here to say 'Hell no you're not.'” The encounter predictably garnered her an appearance on "Fox & Friends."

More recently, Boebert defied local and state health ordinances aimed at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus to re-open her restaurant, Shooters Grill, which is located in a town named Rifle (yes, really). The authorities shut down the establishment, prompting a court fight that led to more headlines. Unsurprisingly, Boebert's campaign was the only one in the state to tell the Colorado Sun that it would be hosting an in-person party on election night.

Tipton had always presented himself as a fairly typical Republican and had never so much as struggled in a previous primary. Boebert's promise to provide a purer strain of extremism—she's even embraced the bonkers QAnon conspiracy theory—isn't anything unusual. What stands out is that she was able to communicate her grievances with a large enough proportion of the primary electorate to actually get heard.

In that she may have been helped by Tipton's apparent complacency: According to a Republican media buying firm, he didn't spend a penny on the airwaves ahead of the primary and only resumed advertising on Facebook after a long hiatus a week before the primary. Tipton's largest expense, in fact, was for fundraising consultants. Boebert, meanwhile, aired a TV ad that accused Tipton of "teaming up with AOC and her squad to give Boulder a bailout" and siding with Nancy Pelosi "to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants."

It's a dispiriting end for Tipton, who arrived in Congress after an upset win of his own during the 2010 Republican wave. Tipton had challenged Democratic Rep. John Salazar four years earlier but was crushed 62-38. Though he won a seat in the state House seat two years later, Tipton looked like he'd be the underdog against Salazar during their rematch. But 2010 was a very different year, and Tipton unseated Salazar 50-46. Democrats made several attempts to defeat him over the following decade, but Tipton always decisively won.

Yet while Boebert celebrates tonight (and helps spread the coronavirus), Republicans in D.C. will be shaking their heads in distress. Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, covering a huge swath of the state from Pueblo to the Western Slope, is red but not implacably so: After voting for Mitt Romney by a 52-46 margin, it moved to the right four years ago, handing Trump a wider 52-40 win. But in 2018's race for governor, it snapped back a considerable distance, giving the Republican candidate just a 50-46 edge.

Despite that contraction, Tipton managed to fend off Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state representative, by a slightly larger 52-44 spread that same year. But Mitsch Bush, who earned the Democratic nomination again on Tuesday by decisively winning her own primary, will now see increased interest in her candidacy, and with almost $1 million raised so far this cycle, she's already proven herself a vastly superior fundraiser to Boebert. With Republicans already facing long odds to retake the House, Lauren Boebert just made them longer.

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‘Burned to the ground’: Never Trump conservatives vow to ‘repudiate’ Trumpism by helping Democrats retake the Senate

President Donald Trump’s right-wing critics — who range from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to columnist George Will to just about anyone who writes for The Bulwark — have been asserting that Trump is so toxic to the Republican Party and the conservative movement that the only way to clean up the mess is a massive victory for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. But some Never Trump conservatives are also stressing that a Biden win isn’t enough and that Trumpism must also be repudiated by Democrats retaking the U.S. Senate in November.

Journalists David Catanese and Alex Roarty, in an article published in the Sacramento Bee on July 2, discuss the steps that Never Trumpers are taking to help bring about a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. One right-wing group that has been taking out ads attacking Trump and his GOP supporters in the Senate is The Lincoln Project, whose participants include attorney George Conway and conservative strategists Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt.

Schmidt, who left the GOP because of Trump — not unlike Scarborough and Will — told McClatchy Newspapers (which owns the Bee), “The analogy would be in the same way that fire purifies the forest, it needs to be burned to the ground and fundamentally repudiated. Every one of them should be voted out of office, with the exception of Mitt Romney.”

During Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate earlier this year, Romney was the only Republican who voted to convict Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment he faced.

The incumbent GOP senators The Lincoln Project has been attacking with its ad buys include Arizona’s Martha McSally, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Jennifer Horn, who is now an adviser to The Lincoln Project and formerly served as chair of the New Hampshire GOP, told McClatchy that such senators are “the only…. human beings who had the authority and the ability to keep this president in check constitutionally and politically — and every one of them made a conscious decision to not do so. The only way to make sure that Trumpism doesn’t continue to rule the Republican Party for years to come is to make sure that we defeat not only the president, but those people who have enabled him.”

Another right-wing anti-Trump group that will be attacking Trump and incumbent Republican senators this summer is The Bravery Project, which is being launched by former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh — who challenged Trump via a Republican presidential primary but suspended his campaign. According to McClatchy, Walsh is targeting Trump in battleground states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and North Carolina.

Walsh told McClatchy, “Trump has to lose, and every Republican senator up for reelection has to lose because they’ve enabled (him). Do I want the Democrats to take control of the Senate? No, but I have no choice. To me, these Republicans like Martha McSally and Thom Tillis and Susan Collins have breached their office.”

Walsh continued, “It means the Democrats will be in control of D.C., and they will try to push policies I disagree with. That will leave someone like me fighting against their policies. I don’t look forward to that, but that will be the necessary result.”

Another Never Trump group Catanese and Roarty mention is Republican Voters Against Trump, whose strategic director, Sarah Longwell, told McClatchy that Trump’s “level of power over the party could be determined by what happens in November. If Joe Biden wins in a landslide and takes the Senate down with him, then Republicans are going to realize they’ve made a massive miscalculation.”

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