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Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset

The Hill logo The Hill 7/1/2020 Tal Axelrod
Scott Tipton wearing a suit and tie: Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset © The Hill Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset

Gun rights activist Lauren Boebert defeated Rep. Scott Tipton (R) in a Republican primary, delivering a surprise upset over the five-term lawmaker.

Boebert gained national recognition for her ownership of Shooters Grill, a restaurant that drew headlines for allowing its waiting staff to openly carry firearms.

Colorado's 3rd District, which spans from the northwest of the state to the southeast plains, is 99 percent rural and leans Republican. It last elected a Democrat in 2008 before then-Rep. John Salazar (D) was ousted in 2010 by Tipton.

Tipton, who was endorsed by President Trump, is now the third GOP lawmaker to be defeated this cycle after Rep. Steve King (Iowa) and Rep. Denver Riggleman (Va.). Riggleman was defeated by Republican Bob Good at a party convention rather than a primary.

Among Democrats, Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.) was ousted in a primary earlier this year by progressive Marie Newman and Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) appeared likely to lose his seat to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman as votes continue to be counted following last week's primary.

Boebert, who is often pictured toting a gun on her hip, ran to Tipton's right, casting herself as someone who "believes in personal freedom, citizen rights, and upholding the Constitution of the United States" and is an "avid supporter" of the president.

"There is a battle for the heart and soul of our country that I intend on helping win," she says on her campaign website. "I'm running for Congress to stand up for our conservative values, address our current representatives' failed promises, and put far-left Democrats back in their place."

In November, Boebert will face off against former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D), who prevailed in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

Trump congratulated Boebert on her win, saying in a tweet, "Congratulations on a really great win!"

Boebert has torn into Tipton over his votes to provide coronavirus relief funds to cities like Boulder and for an agriculture bill in December that included a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrant workers.

"In December, Scott Tipton voted alongside Nancy Pelosi to give millions of illegal immigrants amnesty and hand them a billion of our taxpayer dollars. In April, Scott Tipton joined AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and her Squad to bailout Boulder. In June, I plan on term-limiting Scott Tipton," Boebert said in an ad this month.

Tipton also did not spend any money this cycle on television ads, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Boebert, who made headlines last year for challenging former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) over his gun buyback program at a campaign event, has also expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Boebert is not the first Republican backer of the conspiracy theory to win a congressional primary this cycle. The theory posits that Trump and the military are working together to expose and arrest a shadowy cabal of global elites and Democratic establishment figures who control the government and run a global child sex trafficking ring.

When Boebert appeared on a right-wing internet show named "Steel Truth" in May, she was asked her thoughts on Q, the mysterious figure who posts anonymous messages online that serve as the foundation for the conspiracy theory.

"I am familiar with that," she responded. "Everything I've heard of Q - I hope this is real. Because it only means America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values."

Marjorie Taylor Greene advanced to a runoff in the Republican primary race to represent a deep-red Georgia county earlier this month, while Jo Rae Perkins, who in since-deleted tweets said she stood with Q, won the party's Oregon Senate primary.

Chris Mills Rodrigo and Abigail Mihaly contributed.

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