The biggest upset in this past week's primary has to be Rifle's Lauren Boebert's defeat of four-term incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton. It may be an upset to the rest of the world but listening to Boebert, one can feel she’s had the confidence of a winner all along. Boebert has been compared to Sarah Palin but after studying Boebert and Palin both, I would say there is no comparison.
Palin was thrust into the national spotlight after being tapped as presidential hopeful John McCain's running mate. Boebert entered the national scene long before she decided to enter into politics. She decided to take advantage of Colorado's open carry law after a man was found beaten to death behind the building in which her restaurant — Shooters Grill — is housed. Boebert, in several interviews, states that given her size — around 5 foot and 100 pounds — she would never be able to stave off an attack from a man if it happened in her restaurant. She felt vulnerable after such a heinous attack happened so close. She consulted with a local gun shop owner and learned of the open carry law. She did her own research and study of the law, and then began to carry in her own restaurant. Her employees soon followed suit and thanks to a story written by a local reporter that went viral, Boebert and her restaurant became a national conversation.
The comparison between Boebert and Palin should end at both being conservatives. In the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska a community of 100,000-plus and the size of West Virginia being elected as a conservative is almost a given. Estimated at around 80% conservative the Mat-Su Valley primaries are the contested election period while the generals are more of a formality. Typically, progressives are found in the small town of Palmer which neighbors Wasilla by less than 5 miles, but, politically speaking, they are worlds apart.
Palin cut her teeth as the mayor of Wasilla and then went on to win the governor's seat with a victory over John Binkley and incumbent Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary. Palin would go on to win the general election only to step down in July of 2009 citing excessive costs to the State of Alaska and her personally due to ethics investigations. Politics in Alaska is often cited as a blood sport, and though the state is large geographically it is very small when it comes to politics. A mutual friend of ours once told me that many of Palin’s closest supporters were very upset with her that she stepped down. She recalled being in a bedroom at Palin's parents’ home and telling her: Sarah you just don't quit being the governor. Pegging Palin as McCain's running mate was one many errors on the part of the campaign. Two questions I am often asked about my time in Alaska. Did you meet Sarah Palin? No, I didn't. By that time Palin spent a good amount of time in the lower 48 and the only time her family made news in Alaska was typically when domestic disputes occured. Palin isn't discussed much on the political scene either. The other question is could you see Russia from your house. That question is quick to draw an eye roll from Alaskans.
Boebert came into her national spotlight maybe a little more innocently. But her convictions are deep rooted. Citing growing up with a mother who believed the government would solve her problems by providing for her both financially and with health care, Boebert, the oldest of five children, recalls being sent into the grocery store to buy bread for her family with an EBT card. She recalls it as an embarrassing situation. After the family moved from the Denver area to Rifle, Boebert was hired by the local McDonalds at 15 years old. She recalls receiving her first paycheck as a life-altering moment. A revelation of sorts that one, through hard work, can be rewarded. She cites her work ethic as such that she would make management-type decisions without being named or paid as a manager. Her thinking was that if she exhibited that kind of leadership then the management positions would come to her. She states that usually they did.
When Boebert found herself in the national spotlight and network television began to interview her because she was the owner of a restaurant named Shooters in the town of Rifle and her staff openly carried, an interesting exchange took place that I believe is overlooked.
In 2014, Boebert who was 27 at the time was asked about a sign that was hanging in the restaurant. The sign states, "Proudly clinging to my gun and my bible" which references a comment caught off camera by then Sen. Barack Obama made about rural Americans campaigning to be president.
"And it's not surprising then they cling to their guns or religions or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
It was interpreted as a negative statement. The interviewer tried to bait Boebert into making a negative statement about the then president. She didn't bite. Was it a direct jab at Obama?
"No, I would never do anything to disrespect my president. I believe it is an office that is in place by God."
Boebert states that she remembers being saved at 3 years old. She's a devout Christian and seemingly walks the walk.
When Palin was elected then Gov. Frank Murkowski purchased a Westwind II jet for $2.7 million. It was an unpopular decision and Palin promised to sell the jet if elected. It was a symbol of his unpopularity as governor. Boebert defeated Tipton by her campaigning that Tipton was no longer exhibiting conservative values even though he was endorsed by President Donald Trump. Boebert claimed Tipton was a Republican in name only (RINO) and her grassroots effort is what she holds up as the reason she defeated Tipton.
She also garnered national attention when she appeared at a political rally for then presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke. Boebert became determined to face down O'Rourke over his stance of confiscating semi-automatic assault rifles across the country. As Boebert states she went into the lion's den to face not only O'Rourke but his supporters.
"How will you legislate against evil hearts? That is the issue not weapons," she asked O'Rourke.
She found the fact that O'Rourke would bring his anti-gun message to the place where people were slaughtered in a movie theater a few years prior as shameful. So she made the three-hour drive to his rally to voice her opposition.
She also reopened her restaurant despite Gov. Jared Polis' order for restaurants to close during the Stay-at-Home order. Her business licence was revoked but according to Boebert it was a small price to pay to demonstrate that the government should not violate people's individual rights by ordering people to stay home and businesses to close their doors.
Boebert is not Palin. She is the real deal when it comes to conservative values. Before deciding to run for the 3rd congressional district of Colorado, she consulted her husband, her children and then her pastor. She lives what she believes but now the voter pool is much deeper. Can she win the votes of not only hard right conservatives but those who sit center right and center left? Will Independents buy her message? She faces a formidable opponent in the general election Diane Mitsch Bush who lost in the last general election to Tipton by only eight points. Is she the answer to the Democrats Alexander Ocasio-Cortez as many pundits are stating? November will be an election to participate in for Coloradans. Make no mistake about it. Boebert comes to her convictions naturally. I believe they are deeper than Palin's.