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Colorado State Senator Don Coram speaks about a wide range of Western Slope topics to attendees of The Forum in Montrose Colo., Wednesday morning January 5, 2022. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)

GRAND JUNCTION – Don Coram hasn’t got a clue if he is “super woke.”

“I have no idea what that means,” said the Republican state senator from Montrose before he announced his primary challenge for the 3rd Congressional District Friday afternoon.

Lauren Boebert, the freshman congresswoman he is hoping to unseat in the Republican primary, sent a statement on Coram’s candidacy that morning describing the 73-year-old Montrose native with a background in farming and mining, as a “super-woke social liberal.”

“If that is the tag they want to pin on me, bring it on,” Coram told a crowd of about two dozen reporters and supporters outside his son’s coffee shop in Grand Junction.

That exchange may lay out a roadmap for how the campaign may go between the folksy, centrist Republican who likes to say that the R behind his name actually stands for “rural,” and Boebert, the far-right, conspiracy-embracing Trump-stalwart.

Boebert has made her mark as a politician who is always ready with a fiery insult for those on the opposite side of the aisle and the opposite side of an issue.

In his decade in state office, Coram has touted his willingness to work pragmatically across the aisle without ignoring his conservative leanings when it comes to passing legislation that will benefit his constituents.

“The middle is where the action is,” Coram told his supporters to a burst of applause.  

Ray Langston, until several months ago the chairman of the Montrose County GOP, was one of those in attendance. He was a Boebert fan (“I really think she will do well, and I really hope she does,” he told CPR after she was sworn into office) until her first year in Congress passed without her having passed a single piece of legislation.

“To me, that’s an issue,” Langston said.

He said there are plenty of Republicans around Montrose who think that Coram is too liberal, but he has earned respect as a workhorse when it comes to representing his constituents. Langston guessed that 70% of Montrose Republicans are in support of Coram’s candidacy after voting for Boebert in the last primary. Boebert surprised Republicans when she unseated Scott Tipton of Cortez who had served a decade representing the 3rd District.

“I am fearful she will lose the election if she is the candidate,” said Langston, who disagrees with Boebert’s assertion that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen,” but agrees with her beliefs that President Joe Biden is “senile,” that former President Donald Trump has not been treated fairly by Democrats, and that the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was not an insurrection.

Coram, in his brief remarks Friday, did use the term “insurrection” when referring to the attack on the capitol.

Alfred Gilchrist is a Montrose independent who also made the trip to Grand Junction for Coram’s announcement. The former chief executive of the Colorado Medical Society said he will be volunteering with Coram’s campaign. Gilchrist said he has been heartened by the attention Coram’s campaign received, even before he made his official announcement.

He said he was having coffee with Coram and his campaign manager earlier this week and “both their phones were buzzing every three or four minutes with people offering support.”

Only one well-known Mesa County Republican was obvious in the crowd for Coram’s announcement. Former state representative and senator Steve King stayed in the background. King left politics in 2015 after pleading guilty to embezzlement and official misconduct for falsifying time cards while working a part-time law enforcement job during his tenure in the Senate.

Boebert has another Republican challenger. Marina Zimmerman, a crane operator from the Durango area, has also entered the primary race.

Special to The Colorado Sun Email: Twitter: @nlofholm