More than a week after the midterm elections, incumbent U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was poised to hold on to her seat in Congress even as her Democratic challenger, Adam Frisch, on Thursday narrowed the gap between them enough to force an automatic recount.
Only Moffat County still had ballots left to report in Colorado’s massive 3rd Congressional District as of Thursday night. A representative of the Moffat County Clerk’s Office told The Denver Post they plan to report a final tally of just 25 remaining ballots Friday.
The straggling tallies reported by election clerks in Mesa, Pueblo and other counties on Thursday came from ballots mailed by Colorado voters outside of the state, which could be counted so long as they arrived by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Ballots requiring additional signature verification could be counted until then as well.
Boebert, a Republican, began Thursday with the 1,122-vote lead she’d held since late last week, but that shrank to 543 votes — out of 326,915 cast — by 5:55 p.m., according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. That’s under the automatic recount threshold of about 819 votes, a number equal to half of 1% of the top vote-getter’s tally.
The automatic recount process will last until December but is unlikely to change the result of the race.
As of Thursday evening, neither candidate had declared victory or conceded.
Frisch, of Aspen, attended congressional orientation in Washington, D.C., this week in case the remaining ballots turned in his favor. He tweeted his thanks to volunteers who helped voters fix and count ballots throughout the election, one of the closest in the country this election cycle.
“Running in this race, getting to know so many people in my district & hearing your stories has been an honor of a lifetime,” Frisch tweeted. “Stay tuned.”
Boebert, of Silt, didn’t address her race on Twitter on Thursday, but did celebrate that Republicans had secured a majority, albeit a slim one, in the House, meaning a member of the GOP will replace U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
“The Pelosi era is over,” Boebert tweeted. “Good riddance!”
Political experts had expected a landslide victory for Boebert, but she’s only ahead of Frisch by a fraction of a percent.
Last week, Boebert cited low enthusiasm for up-ticket Republicans as a reason for her near-loss. And while Republicans across Colorado — and much of the country — fared more poorly than expected in the midterm elections, political scientists said the bombastic and often-controversial congresswoman’s poor showing likely also serves as a referendum on her.
Boebert’s first term in office has been marked by scandal and investigations far more than policy successes.
The congresswoman received heavy criticism after claiming that women are “weaker” than men and “need masculinity” to balance out that so-called weakness. She was falsely accused of shooting her neighbor’s dogs and was dragged into a small-town drama in Silt after her husband confronted and frightened their neighbors.
Boebert’s Christian nationalist rhetoric has also drawn strong condemnation across the country.
And she’s spread conspiracy theories and still strongly supports former President Donald Trump — who endorsed her in this race — even as he continues to spread falsehoods and misinformation about the 2020 presidential election
On top of it all, Frisch served as a tougher-than-expected opponent. His campaign started slowly but eventually garnered national attention and, toward the end of the race, he even outpaced Boebert’s fundraising.
During her first term in Congress, Boebert sat in the minority and was not able to pass any legislation. Instead, she leaned on her louder-than-normal voice — more than 2 million followers on Twitter alone — to serve as a champion of far-right conservative values.
If Boebert’s win holds through the recount process, she’ll be in the House’s majority party, meaning she might have a better chance of passing legislation for her district. With Republicans holding such a slim minority as well, the congresswoman’s voice might hold even more weight because the party will need her vote on contentious proposals.