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Opinion: Does Boebert’s unabashed seat shopping really matter?

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Rep. Lauren Boebert’s decision to cut and run for Congress on the other side of Colorado is a gross political attempt to retain office at all costs.

By electing to run in eastern Colorado’s Congressional District 4, instead of western Colorado’s District 3, Boebert dodges both a tough primary from Jeff Hurd and a brutal general election against Adam Frisch. Frisch, a Democrat, fell short by only about 600 votes two years ago and since then Boebert has accomplished little for her district except embarrassing her constituents with lude and rude behavior at the Buell theater in Denver.

Facing such daunting prospects, Boebert did what any unabashed person would do, abandon her constituents to seek office in another community where the incumbent has retired and the competition isn’t nearly as stiff.

The move has all the makings of a backroom deal to clear the road for Hurd, a more moderate Republican, to secure the nomination and defeat Frisch in the general election. But it appears Republicans in the party were genuinely surprised by Boebert’s announcement.

In the 4th Congressional District, several far-right candidates have already thrown their hats in the ring and Boebert will only add to the noise clambering for a nomination in the primary. The odds of a Democrat winning the seat are negligible.

Does it matter that Boebert is playing strategic games with Colorado’s congressional seats?

The Washington Post reported in 2017 that Rep. Ken Buck – who now represents Congressional District 4 – was registered to vote nearby in Congressional District 2. Buck was among 21 members found not to be living in their districts while serving in Congress. Federal law only requires that members reside in the state they represent.

Most of the members in that story lived on the border of their district or had been drawn out of the area in a redistricting process.

The kind of seat shopping Boebert has engaged in is entirely different from someone who lives nearby for their spouse’s work or their children’s schools but commutes a half hour into the community they serve, or a candidate who has lived in a city their entire life but decided to downsize and move nearby after taking office so they could afford rent in Washington, D.C., too.

Boebert did say in her statement that she would move east to her new district sometime in the New Year. What that means in practice will probably be a studio apartment in Castle Rock that she resides in only when it’s convenient with her campaign schedule.

Having good local representation in the House and Senate does matter. Anyone can vote conservative or liberal on cleaving social issues like abortion or international conflicts or even funding the government. But it takes someone connected to the community to fight for local community college grants, get obscure water rights sorted out in an amendment to a natural resources bill or solve constituent passport and immigration issues. Boebert might think she knows the plains community’s needs but they are unique and vastly different from the Western Slope.

It took Boebert four years in Congress to begin pulling her weight on important local issues like the PUEBLO Act and the special management area in Dolores Canyon. Will the 4th Congressional District have to wait four years for mediocre representation now?

All politics are now national. From school board elections and mayors to state representatives and district attorneys, the money and influence flow in from out-of-state and the model of community service has gone to the wayside. Boebert isn’t worried about turning off Mesa County donors because she gets money from out-of-state. Members of Congress can no longer resist the pull of Washington, D.C., although some do try valiantly to serve their community.

In the long run, the political machine doesn’t care where Boebert is elected from, only whether she’ll fight the partisan fight in D.C. The question is whether voters in Parker, Lamar, Fort Morgan and Wray care enough to do something about it.

Megan Schrader is the opinion editor of The Denver Post.

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