If there’s anything we know about Lauren Boebert, it’s that she loves attention. And as of now, she’s as famous — or infamous — as she’s ever been. And, depending on how things go over the next few days or weeks, she could be as famous or infamous now as she’ll ever be again.
For those who watch these things closely, there is an unlikely, but extremely wild and weird possibility that Boebert’s race against Adam Frisch — which as of Saturday was still too close to call — could conceivably decide the fate of Boebert’s fellow House Republicans.
Meanwhile, Democrats have actually held on to the Senate. The last chip to fall came, as you might expect, in Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto finally passed challenger Adam Laxalt, a devoted Trumpist. Laxalt couldn’t even get members of his own family to vote for him.
The Nevada victory gives Democrats 50 seats — the same as they had before the election — with a chance to pick up one more in the Georgia runoff next month when Herschel Walker, another Trumpist, will be the underdog.
If Sen. Raphael Warnock holds off Walker, that would give the Democrats 51 seats, meaning, among other things, that Joe Manchin might never again be the Senate’s deciding vote.
Can you spot a trend here? Democrats were even gaining the advantage in state legislatures, where Republicans have dominated in recent years (although not, of course, in Colorado). In this election, as in no other, Republicans would either live by the Trump or, more likely, die by the Trump.
And now everyone is wondering whether Trump will still announce this week — as he’s been broadly hinting — that he’s running again for president in 2024. Do you really think he could take the embarrassment of backing down? I’m ready to bet he’ll make the announcement, if only to try to slow down all those prosecutors who are threatening to indict him.
We know how strange all this is, how none of it makes sense historically. The party in control of the White House nearly always gets shellacked in midterm elections. That’s especially true for presidents who, like Joe Biden, have approval ratings stuck in the low 40s while inflation, meanwhile, is running at a 40-year high.
This was supposed to be the year of the Red Wave, which now looks far more like a Blue surge. What happened?
It seems the Republicans did this to themselves, building a wall that no wave could breach. You can start with the Big Lie, of course, and its ongoing threat to democracy. You can move from there not only to the Trump/McConnell Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but also to the rush by red states across the country to pass draconian anti-abortion laws in its wake.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did a very funny bit the other night showing clips of Republicans on Fox News predicting either a Red Wave or, even better, a Red Tsunami that would overwhelm Democrats in 2022. Among the wave predictors was, of course, Boebert. She made two very Boebert-like appearances in the clips.
When I wrote on Election Day, I used Boebert’s unexpectedly tight race in the heavily Republican Third Congressional District to illustrate all that continues to go wrong for the Colorado GOP.
But by the end of the week, I had come to realize the Boebert story was far bigger than any of us could have guessed.
Boebert is, of course, a Trump acolyte and a Big Lie advocate and, as you’d expect, deeply into the phony furry litter box story. In line with the Freedom Caucus cohort of House crazies — you know the names — she disrupts the State of the Union speech, she repeatedly calls a Muslim congresswoman a terrorist and, of course, defends the Jan. 6 insurrection.
We could go on, but what would be the point? It all leads to this: The picture of her as a relentlessly provocative culture warrior and Trumpist backbencher who has no interest in policy and even less in governance seems to have lost much of its appeal, even in a congressional district that was drawn to be a +9 Republican stronghold.
There were hints of a closer race near the end, which most of the media — including me — tended to discount. In large part, that’s a story about shrinking newsrooms and the difficulty for most news outlets these days to effectively cover a large, mostly rural area like the 3rd CD.
But the state and national Democrats also seemed to miss this story line, which is less excusable. If they had actually supported Frisch earlier, this race may never have gone into overtime.
OK, it’s a failure all around, but mostly, win or lose, it’s Boebert’s failure. And the winners — whatever happens to Boebert — are those GOP and unaffiliated 3rd CD voters who decided they could no longer stand to be represented by an embarrassment like her.
And nearly every vote against Boebert would seem certain to be a vote against Donald Trump. By midday Wednesday, many Republicans and even some Fox Newsers were blaming Trump for his role in helping to nominate candidates whose lone credential was, in many cases, support for Trump.
Would-be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may also take a fall. If Republicans do win the House, many in the right-wing Freedom Caucus will deflect blame from Trump for the poor midterm showing and will blame McCarthy instead.
That would be just the beginning of the House chaos over the next two years if Republicans do take over. You just remember what happened to John Boehner and Paul Ryan. It was enough not only to drive them crazy, but to drive them out of politics altogether. I mean, Boehner transitioned from shilling for Republicans to shilling for pot. By 2020, a Boehner spokesman said the former speaker would “rather set himself on fire” than get involved in the Trump-Biden race.
Can you spot a trend here?
I don’t know whether the Democratic victory in the Senate is a bigger win for Biden or a bigger defeat for Trump. In either case, that’s not the half of it. No one — or at least no one I saw other than Nancy Pelosi — was ready to say that the Democrats had any kind of chance to regain control of the House. As I write this, the House has not been called. It may not be called any time soon.
And then there’s a scenario that, let’s say, 60 percent of Coloradans — maybe more — could definitely enjoy.
Imagine with me that it comes down to one or two seats to determine control of the House. A couple of respected election models have Republicans winning the House by three or four seats. But it could be even closer.
Imagine then the spotlight that would be on the Boebert-Frisch race, which may well, in any case, go to a recount. You can predict if Boebert loses, a thousand mindless conspiracy theories will spring to life, just as we’re already seeing in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Yes, a Boebert loss could conceivably — I have no idea how likely it is — swing the House. If it happens, I know people who will call it schadenfreude. Not Boebert. She’ll just settle for saying the election was rigged.
And if what we’ve come to know of Boebert stays true, if she wins, she’ll probably still claim it was at least an attempted rigging — or anything else that will guarantee she remains in the spotlight.
Mike Littwin’s column was produced for The Colorado Sun, a reader-supported news organization committed to covering the people, places and policies of Colorado. Learn more at coloradosun.com.