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Democrats pitch their strengths in a Boebert matchup during 4th District forum

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Sara Wilson

(Colorado Newsline) With one month until the primary election, Democratic candidates in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District are making a case for their strengths against U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert in the general election.

All three candidates invoked the controversial congresswoman, and political extremism in general, in their remarks Wednesday during a virtual candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Colorado.

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Lauren Boebert

“I am the woman to defeat that other woman, Lauren Boebert, in November,” said Trisha Calvarese in her opening statement.

Third-time candidate Ike McCorkle said his campaign has a poll showing him ahead of Boebert in a head-to-head matchup.

Boebert, who currently represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District on the opposite end of the state, is one of six candidates competing for the Republican nomination for the seat, left open by former Representative Ken Buck’s resignation earlier this year. Though she has not secured the nomination, Democrats are anticipating her primary victory.

“The balance of power in Washington could very well be decided right here in District 4, and we must take full advantage of this opportunity,” McCorkle said.

Republicans hold a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But the district, which includes the Eastern Plains and most of Douglas County, is the most Republican-leaning in the state, and a Democratic victory in November is unlikely. According to a 2021 analysis of recent elections, it sways nearly 27 points to the right. Buck won his seat in 2022 with over 60 percent of the vote.

Boebert is facing Logan County commissioner and former state Senator Jerry Sonnenberg, state Representative Mike Lynch, radio host Deborah Flora, state Representative Richard Holtorf and businessman Peter Yu in the Republican primary.

Still, Democrats on Wednesday held an optimistic tone that voters in the district want a level-headed representative who cares more about policy than political theater — and that they can deliver that.

“People are genuinely worried about a second Donald Trump term, about Lauren Boebert becoming their next representative and about the waves of Republican extremism that are engulfing our country,” said John Padora, an addiction recovery advocate.

Voters in the district will make choices in two different elections for the seat on June 25: one for the primary and one for the special election to complete the rest of Buck’s current term. Calvarese is the Democratic nominee for the special election, and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez is the Republican nominee. The two winners of the partisan primaries will face each other in November.

The entire LWV forum is available to watch on the organization’s Facebook page. The organization will host a forum for the Republican primary candidates June 5.

Cost of living

A pervasive theme during the forum was the cost of living in Colorado and nationwide as households struggle to keep up with housing, transportation and grocery prices.

“The common denominator I hear at the doors every day is just that the economy simply isn’t working for working people. ‘Greedflation’ and corporate monopolies have their boots on the neck of the American worker,” Padora said. Those economic concerns bleed into health care, small business costs, housing and daily essentials, he said.

He said he would support policies such as an increase of the federal minimum wage, kicking corporate investors out of the housing market, infrastructure investment to spur job creation and a progressive tax policy.

Calvarese, a former congressional and campaign staffer, said the federal government should take a bigger role in safeguarding against price gouging, including a congressional inquiry into the issue.

“This is America. People should always be able to rise (into the middle class) on the merit and their hard work and dedication,” she said.

McCorkle said he supports enforcing antitrust laws to break up corporate monopolies.

“We (need to) use that antitrust legislation and a windfall profits tax to tamp down on the excessive price gouging and profiteering that is being conducted on the backs of average, blue collar, working class American citizens,” he said.

On bipartisanship

Each candidate said they would be willing to work across the aisle on a variety of issues, while acknowledging the current gridlock and dysfunction in Congress due to partisanship.

“I would work with my colleagues in the GOP on passing the Farm Bill, which would include a federal right to repair and would include a fertilizer and equipment subsidy assistance program so that our farming and ranching community … can be successful,” McCorkle said.

Calvarese spoke about her work as a speechwriter at the AFL-CIO when Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“I think Ken Buck was doing some really great work taking on tech monopolies. I would love to pick that up,” she said.

War in Gaza

The three candidates were split on whether they support American military aid to Israel for its war against Hamas. McCorkle supports continued military assistance, while Calvarese and Padora do not.

“I look at what happened on October 7 as an absolute tragedy for the Israelis. But I’ve watched the aftermath of Israel’s occupation and military conquest into Gaza, and it’s completely against every international law that we have. We’re witnessing genocide,” Padora said.

He said he wouldn’t support increased funding until Israel “stops killing those innocent people” and allows humanitarian aid into Gaza.

McCorkle said he supports the Biden administration as it “pushes the Israeli administration in the right direction” when it comes to mitigating civilian deaths, but the United States should continue to make sure Israel has access to weapons and military support.

The three candidates all said they support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. They also all said they support military support for Ukraine.

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