Three months after close defeat, Frisch gears up to face Boebert again

Frisch believes he is even better poised to pull off an upset over his far-right opponent, whose performative antics, the election results suggested, have proven off-putting to a large number of disaffected voters

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Adam Frisch, Democratic candidate for Colorados 3rd Congressional district, arrives at the Hyatt Regency on November 13, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

When he announced his longshot campaign to unseat Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) just over a year ago, it was by no means assured that Adam Frisch, a Jewish Democrat from Aspen, would advance past the primary, let alone have the chance to face off against one of the most high-profile, if controversial, Republicans in Congress.

Even less predictable was that Frisch, who narrowly clinched the Democratic nomination, would explode onto the national stage last November, as he came within some 550 votes of defeating Boebert, an unexpectedly vulnerable freshman, in one of the closest House races of the midterms.

Now, as he gears up for a rematch only three months after his tantalizingly close defeat, Frisch believes that he is even better poised to pull off an upset over his far-right opponent, whose performative antics, the election results suggested, have proven off-putting to a large number of disaffected voters from across the political spectrum.

“She is the only nationally known politician who has any chance of losing, and not just any chance but a really darn good one,” Frisch, who launched his second House campaign earlier this month, told Jewish Insider in a recent interview. “We proved that out before, and we’re confident, now that we have a longer runway, that we’ll be able to deliver a final result — and have this be her last term.”

Frisch, 55, had aggressively courted frustrated Republicans and unaffiliated voters in Colorado’s historically conservative 3rd Congressional District, which takes in most of the state’s rural Western Slope, and he intends to build on that strategy in the coming months, he said. 

Even with well over a year until the next election, Frisch, who identifies as a “moderate conservative Democrat,” said he expects that voters will continue to feel disenchanted with Boebert, a leading avatar of Republican extremism in the House. During her brief tenure, the incendiary two-term incumbent has drawn controversy for amplifying conspiracy theories and antagonizing congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, among other things.

“She’s not focused on the job, she’s focused on herself,” Frisch claimed, citing her conduct at a recent House Oversight Committee hearing, where Boebert, 36, accused a former Twitter executive of “shadowbanning” her account. “People wanted the circus to stop,” he explained of her poor showing in the November election. The current view, he maintained, “is that she hasn’t changed.”

As he has traveled the state weighing a new campaign in recent months, Frisch said he has heard from sympathetic conservative voters who have voiced exasperation that Boebert has demonstrated little to no apparent interest in tempering her behavior since she the election, even after nearly losing a House seat viewed as safely red.

“They’re disappointed,” Frisch told JI. “They would have thought or assumed that the representative having one of the worst-performing Republican races in the country would have done a course correct or some type of humility change.”

A spokesperson for Boebert did not respond to a request for comment from JI. 

The congresswoman, who was caught by surprise when Frisch’s surging campaign almost toppled her, now seems to be taking a second challenge more seriously. Hours after he entered the race, Boebert’s campaign released a fundraising email warning supporters about a likely rematch that “that will surely attract a flood of woke money from across the country.”

“Liberal Democrat Aspen Adam announced today that he’s officially running for Congress again,” the email said, reupping an epithet that Boebert, who lives in Rifle, has used to cast Frisch as out of touch with most of the district. “We’ve worked tirelessly to bring fundamental change to the direction of our country,” Boebert’s message added. “Because of this, a lot of people on the Left are angry. They want to keep the status quo.”

During his first campaign, Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman, was largely ignored by Democratic leadership and national political action groups, despite some internal polling from his campaign that indicated the race would be closer than anticipated. In hindsight, he suspects that their support would likely have helped tipped the scales, as he struggled to raise money and boost his profile.

Seth Masket, a professor of political science at the University of Denver, agreed with that assessment. “My impression is that a bit of additional funding and organization could have put Frisch over the top last year,” he said in an email to JI. “Many top Democrats just didn’t take his contest seriously, and the contest was close enough that with a little bit more investment he might have been successful.”

Still, Masket suggested that Frisch’s “odds are longer for 2024,” when there will be a Republican presidential candidate on the ballot “who will undoubtedly” help bolster turnout for Boebert.

Speaking with JI a day after his campaign launch in Pueblo, Frisch said he recognizes the challenges associated with running in a presidential election year, even as he remains optimistic. 

“We think we can build the coalition that’s needed to defeat Lauren Boebert,” he insisted, noting that his interest in joining the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus had been one goal that resonated with voters. “We proved to people that there is a way to defeat one of the true extremists and the only one that’s vulnerable.”

For the moment, however, Frisch said he is “laser-focused” on domestic issues rather than inter-party grievances. “Colorado water, Colorado energy, Colorado jobs,” he declared. “That’s what matters in the district.”

Frisch, who announced raising more than $500,000 within the first few days of his campaign, is joined in the Democratic primary by a lone rival, Debby Burnett, who launched her campaign earlier this month. Burnett, a veterinarian from Gunnison, ran in the 2022 primary but ultimately failed to qualify for the ballot. Frisch, who said he embraces the added competition, is nevertheless the prohibitive Democratic favorite.

This election, he said, his messaging and outreach will stay “roughly the same,” as he seeks to expand on a coalition he characterized as “pro-normal,” a neologism attributed to his mother. “My mom calls it the pro-normal party, and so we’re building the pro-normal party coalition, which is people frustrated with that ‘angertainment’ industry,” he explained, using a word he himself invented to describe Boebert’s confrontational style of politics. 

Don Coram, a former Republican state senator who challenged Boebert in last year’s primary, offered his own unique coinage to sum up the congresswoman’s approach. “I certainly haven’t seen Rep. Boebert do anything to change her ‘rantatic’ way of doing business,” he told JI, clarifying that the word is a portmanteau of “ranting lunatic.” 

“She’s got a long ways to go to get my support,” Coram elaborated in an interview with JI on Tuesday. “The problem that I see is, if you don’t know history, you repeat the same mistake, and I don’t think she’s figured out why this was supposed to be a landslide,” he said of her last election, “and it turned out to be one of the closest races in the country.”

He described Frisch, on the other hand, as “knowledgeable” and “very qualified,” saying his “chances are pretty good.” But while Coram endorsed Frisch in 2022, he declined to reveal at this early juncture if he will do so again, even if he indicated that Boebert is less likely to win his approval.

Meanwhile, Frisch said he is anticipating support from “a variety of organizations that are very excited we’re off and running,” though he suggested that it is “too soon” to make any announcements. He also expects to engage further with several pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC and J Street, whose backing he sought unsuccessfully during his first bid.

Among the limited number of outside groups that previously backed his campaign were two other pro-Israel organizations, the Jewish Democratic Council of America and Democratic Majority for Israel, both of which gave endorsements just a month before the election.

Thanks to his newfound status as a formidable candidate, however, Frisch may not need to wait that long to receive such support as he builds a new campaign.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who’s not taking us seriously now,” he marveled.

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