After a tight U.S. House race that was likely headed to a recount, Adam Frisch conceded to Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert on Friday. The Democratic businessman from the ritzy ski town of Aspen led a surprisingly difficult challenge against the renowned conservative firebrand whose combative style helped define the new right.
“America is tired of the circus, tired of the lack of respect for our institutions and democracy, and tired of the lack of civility in our discourse,” Frisch said in a video.
CBS News had characterized the race as “lean Republican,” but on Friday, Boebert was leading Frisch by just 551 votes, or 0.16 points, out of 326,965 votes counted.
Frisch said he supports the recount but that it would be unrealistic to think it would flip enough votes for him to win.
A margin that small qualifies for an automatic recount under Colorado law, in a race that has garnered national attention as Republicans try to bolster their advantage in the U.S. House after clinching a narrow majority Wednesday night.
As counties finalized unofficial results on Thursday, Boebert’s already slim lead was cut in half. All but one of the 27 counties in the district had reported final results by Thursday evening. Otero County plans to finalize its numbers on Friday.
In Colorado, a mandatory recount is triggered when the margin of votes between the top two candidates is at or below 0.5% of the leading candidate’s vote total. On Thursday night, that margin was around .34%.
The updated results follow a hectic few days for both campaigns as they scrambled to “cure” ballots — the process of confirming voters’ choices if their ballots had been rejected in the initial count. Both the Republican and Democratic national campaign committees had boots on the ground in Colorado to support the efforts and had a deadline of late Wednesday night.
Late Thursday, Boebert claimed victory in a tweeted video of her standing in front of the U.S. Capitol.
“Come January, you can be certain of two things,” said Boebert before thanking her supporters, “I will be sworn in for my second term as your congresswoman, and Republicans can finally turn Pelosi’s house back into the People’s House.”
While Boebert has gained widespread notoriety and a spot on the so-called “MAGA Squad,” the fact that the race is heading toward a likely recount is an indication that the Trump loyalist’s provocative style has its political downsides. Until election night, Boebert had been heavily favored to win reelection after redistricting made the sprawling, conservative district more Republican.
Her razor tight margin against Frisch surprised the political establishment as much as her 2020 GOP primary defeat of a five-term congressman that helped put her in office. The one-time owner of a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, Boebert comfortably won the district in 2020′s general election and swiftly established herself as a partisan flashpoint in Washington.
She filmed an ad of herself strolling the streets of the capital while packing her pistol, pushed to carry it on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and picked fights on social media with high-profile liberal Democrats like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
Frisch, a businessman who served on the City Council in the posh ski town of Aspen, tried to build a bipartisan coalition of supporters. The challenger’s strategy was to downplay his Democratic Party affiliation and run on a largely conservative platform in order to tap into GOP disillusionment with Boebert’s polarizing rhetoric and what he called her brand of “angertainment” — a term that he frequently repeated in public appearances and media interviews.
To Frisch, his unanticipated support points to a portion of Republicans tired of Boebert’s Trump-like style. Whether win or lose, Frisch said earlier Thursday, “I think 99% of the story is here.”
Frisch said he had expected a close race and wouldn’t be surprised if he won. But the candidate, who attended the congressional orientation in Washington, D.C., this week for newly minted representatives, added: “We obviously can’t be surprised if we lose. We’re not that wacko.”