The pistol-packing owner of Rifle's Shooters Grill is mounting a Republican primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, charging that the five-term incumbent isn't doing enough to champion conservative values.
"I was finally fed up enough and made the determination someone needs to be aggressive and passionate enough to give a darn," Lauren Boebert said in an interview with Colorado Politics. "We have so many Republicans who run as conservatives, but they don’t act as conservative Republicans."
Boebert, 32, said she'll file paperwork Monday to run in Colorado's sprawling 3rd Congressional District and plans to launch her campaign later in the week at her restaurant, which has garnered international attention because her employees carry firearms while they're at work.
"We have tyrannical socialists absolutely destroying our nation," she said. "There is a battle for the heart and soul of our nation. I am fired up and prepared to enter this fight with the intention to win. Now is the time where we need to have a loud, disruptive voice in office who is not going to allow these policies to keep dominating."
Boebert landed in the national spotlight in September when she confronted then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke over the Texan's proposal to confiscate assault-style weapons.
“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,'" Boebert told O'Rourke at an Aurora town hall, referring to his remarks in a recent debate. "Well, I’m here to say, 'Hell no, you’re not.'”
She told Colorado Politics she wants to take the same aggressive approach to Washington, D.C., to take on U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a lawmaker elected last year from New York, and her fellow members of The Squad, a group of four young, progressive Democratic women of color.
"I’m more fired up and focused to take on AOC and her Squad," Boebert said. "It’s an atrocity right now that we have these four women running our country into the ground."
Boebert said she's disappointed Tipton hasn't fought back more effectively against Ocasio-Cortez and her "socialist agendas."
"These Republicans, they’re not qualified to contest her the way I can, and I’m not afraid to do it," Boebert said. "You hear all these excuses, that he’s just one person, he’s in the minority, and there’s all these other factors and it’s a slow process on purpose. Then how is AOC and her Squad running the country? Don’t give me an excuse that one person can’t make a difference."
She acknowledged that Ocasio-Cortez and her cohorts aren't exactly running the country but said they're setting the agenda without much push-back from Republicans like Tipton.
"They’re definitely shaking up their people and motivating them," Boebert said. "They’re changing the narrative, and the narrative is following them. And after I’m elected, I’m taking down AOC and the Squad."
Boebert and her husband, Jayson, who works in the oil and gas industry, have four sons, ages 7-14.
"Foremost, I am all about God, country and family," she said. "Without my faith in Jesus, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without the freedom we have in our country, I wouldn’t be able to support my family the way my husband and I have."
Boebert said she's voted for Tipton in previous elections but was moved to run against him, in part, after the state took a sharp left turn after last year's election.
"Honestly, I feel like I’m one of many who have been patiently waiting for active representation," she said. "But after this last legislative session we’ve had in Colorado and seeing what’s going on in D.C., I feel I have to step up."
Boebert said she was alarmed by the red flag law passed by Democrats earlier this year, which allows a court to seize firearms temporarily from Coloradans deemed a risk to themselves or others. She stressed, however, that she isn't just running to protect Second Amendment rights.
"You could go right down as a conservative and check every box," Boebert said, adding that she's been "in this battle trying to defend the rights that are being taken away from us" for years.
"I’m tired of being on the defense for our constitutional rights," she said. "It’s not going to break the Constitution to use it. We’ve been on the defense far too long."
A spokesman for Tipton's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
First elected to Congress in 2010, Tipton has easily made it past primary challengers from the right in his runs for re-election, defeating relatively unknown GOP opponents by overwhelming margins in 2014 and 2016.
Tipton and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in October were named honorary co-chairs of President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign in Colorado.
The vast district — one of the largest in the country — covers most of the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo County. It leans Republican but has been a swing district over the decades with similar boundaries.
Tipton has won re-election over Democratic challengers with decreasing shares of the vote, Boebert points out, falling from a high of 58% of the vote in 2014 to 51.5% last year, when he defeated former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush and two other candidates.
Mitsch Bush, a former county commissioner and state lawmaker from Steamboat Springs, is one of three Democrats seeking the nomination this cycle.
The others are James Iacino, a former seafood executive and recent transplant into the district from Denver, and Root Routledge, a climate activist from Durango. State Rep. Don Valdez of La Veta ran for the nomination briefly but ended his campaign in late October.