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Lauren Boebert, of Rifle, is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. (Handout)

Lauren Boebert, the owner and operator of a Western Slope restaurant where all staffers openly carry guns, announced on Sunday a conservative primary challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

Lauren Boebert, of Rifle, is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. (Handout via Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Squad and the rest of these left-wing lunatics are taking a wrecking ball to our country while our current representative stays utterly silent,” Boebert said in a statement announcing her candidacy in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. 

“The Squad” is a group of four new, liberal Democratic congresswomen of color that includes Ocasio-Cortez, a U.S. representative from New York. 

“Hard-working, patriotic Americans like you and me don’t want the Green New Deal and socialized medicine,” Boebert said. “Every time AOC and the rest of The Squad pipes up with another crazy idea, I will remind them that our belief in God, country and family are what built the United States of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

Boebert’s restaurant, Shooters Grill in Rifle, has been the subject of media attention because its employees openly carry firearms while serving customers. Boebert is a gun rights activist, recently showing up — a pistol strapped to her waistband — at a gun-control event for then-presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke in Aurora to confront him about his pledge to take away people’s assault-style weapons. 

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Boebert says she is an active Trump supporter, and the district she is running in backed Trump in 2016. “There is a battle for the heart and soul of our country that I intend on helping win,” she said in her announcement. 

In an interview with The Colorado Sun, Boebert said that the laws passed by Democrats in Colorado’s 2019 legislative session were also a big part of her decision to run. She felt that Titpon was not vocal enough in opposing those measures, including the red flag gun bill.

“If I felt that we were being represented properly, I would not have stepped up to run for this position,” she said.

Asked why she decided to run for Congress and not the state legislature, where those measures were passed, Boebert said she wanted to have the most impact as quickly as possible. “This is not a career move for me,” she said.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the first to report on Boebert’s candidacy, says Tipton, who has served in the U.S. House since since 2010, has fought off three prior Republican primary challenges. Tipton is a supporter of Trump, serving as an honorary co-chair of the president’s 2020 re-election effort in Colorado.

Tipton, who lives in Cortez, also has beaten Democratic challengers in the past. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Tipton’s seat in 2020, potentially the most competitive U.S. House race in Colorado, but has struggled to recruit candidates. 

MORE: National Democrats call Colorado Republican Scott Tipton’s seat a top pickup opportunity. But is it winnable?

The Democrats running to unseat Tipton include former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs, who ran against Tipton and lost in 2018, and James Iacino, the former CEO of Denver-based Seattle Fish Company and a recent transplant to the Western Slope.

A spokesman for Tipton’s reelection campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Sunday.

The Colorado Sun —

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul