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Republican candidates for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District during a debate in Fort Lupton on Jan. 25, 2024, were asked if they had ever been arrested. Raising their hand to indicate “yes” were, from left, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, Trent Leisy, state Rep. Mike Lynch, Chris Phelan, former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and state Rep. Richard Holtorf.
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CD4 Debate and Straw Pole, Colorado Caucus, and the Primary Process


By Raina Lucero

February 2, 2024

The recent 4th Congressional District debate, hosted by the Republican Women of Weld County, shed light on the dynamics of the GOP primary race and the challenges faced by candidates like Lauren Boebert in the unfamiliar eastern Colorado district. The event provided a platform for candidates to showcase their positions and engage in discussions that touched on key issues such as immigration, criminal records, and district loyalty.

 

Jerry Sonnenberg, a GOP legislator, and Logan County Commissioner, emerged as a standout candidate during the debate. With sixteen years of service in the Colorado Legislature, Sonnenberg’s calm and measured demeanor set him apart from rivals, including the controversial Lauren Boebert. Winning the CD4 straw poll with 22 votes out of 117, Sonnenberg also secured the most endorsements from fellow candidates, showcasing his experience and ability to withstand pressure.

During the debate, Sonnenberg addressed his arrest record, displaying transparency and receiving positive responses from both the audience and fellow candidates. His deep ties to the rural community, conservative voting record, and endorsements from various leaders contribute to his strong candidacy for CD4. Sonnenberg has also earned endorsement from many prominent figures throughout the District including all three Prowers County Commissioners, Senator Rod Pelton, and many more.

Sonnenberg downplayed the significance of the straw poll, emphasizing the importance of voters observing differences among candidates. Despite sharing political views with other Republicans, Sonnenberg refrained from engaging in trash-talk, fostering a positive and respectful atmosphere among the candidates.

In contrast, Lauren Boebert, the incumbent congresswoman from the 3rd District, faced challenges in the 4th District straw poll, landing in fifth place with 12 votes. Boebert acknowledged the need to earn voters’ support, dispelling any notion of a “coronation” and recognizing the competitive nature of the primary race.

Boebert’s district switch from the Western Slope 3rd District to the 4th sparked criticism from fellow Republicans, with concerns raised about her familiarity with the new district. Critics, including fellow candidate Mike Lynch, asked Boebert if she knew the definition of “carpetbagging” after she made a dig at the now former Colorado Republican minority leaders recent fall from grace at the state capitol.

Lynch who is respected by many Republicans, stepped down from his minority leader seat after the facts surrounding his arrest in 2022 on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of a gun while intoxicated were made public.

During the debate, a noteworthy moment emerged when candidates were asked about their arrest records. Six out of the nine candidates proudly raised their hands, prompting a spirited reaction from the audience. Notably, Rep. Lauren Boebert, currently representing the 3rd District, now a 4th District candidate and Weld County resident celebrated the occasion by exchanging a high-five with Mike Lynch. Lynch had recently resigned as the state’s House minority leader following the revelation of a 2022 DUI arrest.

The debate also delved into issues such as immigration, where candidates like Ted Harvey advocated for a rigid stance, supporting the deportation of those who entered the country without authorization in the past two years.

As the CD4 candidates navigate the complexities of the primary race, it’s essential to understand the broader context of Colorado’s caucus and primary process.

Colorado’s primary election during a presidential election year consists of multiple steps before a candidate is declared the winner. Registered Democrats and Republicans receive their party’s respective ballots, while unaffiliated voters receive both but can only submit one for their vote to count.

The county caucuses, set by each party, differ from state primaries in funding and operation. While primaries are run by state governments and allow unaffiliated voters to participate, caucuses are open only to registered party members. In Colorado, caucuses play a role in electing party delegates for county and state assembly, as well as national conventions rather than selecting presidential candidates.

The Democratic and Republican caucuses in Colorado are scheduled between March 5-9, in Kiowa County Precinct caucus’ will be held Wednesday, March 6, 7:00 pm

  • Prec. 1: Plainview School
  • Prec. 2: Courthouse commissioner meeting room
  • Prec. 3: Eads High School computer lab, room 104
  • Prec. 4: Haswell Community Building

The Kiowa County Republican assembly will be held Friday, March 15, 6:00 pm at the Eads Community Church basement. All CD4 candidates have been invited to attend the assembly.

Democrats can find information about their county’s caucus on coloradodems.org/counties-23, while Republicans can visit cologop.org/counties/ for details.

As the CD4 race unfolds, candidates like Sonnenberg and Boebert navigate a competitive landscape shaped by voter preferences, endorsements, and their stances on crucial issues. The Colorado caucus and primary process further contribute to the democratic engagement of voters, offering them opportunities to participate in shaping the state’s political landscape. The CD4 debate provides a snapshot of the challenges and strategies employed by candidates as they vie for the nomination and the opportunity to represent the diverse interests of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

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