Lauren Boebert is already known for her strong support of the Second Amendment. Now she is also taking on the mantle of leader of Colorado’s anti-lockdown movement. Boebert, a restaurant owner known widely for her Shooters Grill, where waitresses wear sidearms, had her restaurant shut down officials when she was simply trying to make a living.
CORTEZ, Colo. — A Glock on her hip and stilettos on her feet, Lauren Boebert stood behind a grocery store and waved as pickups, Harleys and Subarus flying “Trump 2020” banners and “thin blue line” American flags drove by. The procession calls itself the Montezuma County Patriots, a group of locals — fence menders, firefighters, retirees, unemployed dispatchers and others — that parades through town every weekend. This week, they steered their vehicles into a cracked asphalt parking lot and climbed out. They were here to see Boebert, a 33-year-old first-time candidate for Congress.
In June, Boebert pulled off a stunning upset of a five-term incumbent in the Republican primary — the first time an incumbent member of Congress had lost a primary in Colorado in almost a half-century. The owner of a gun-themed restaurant called Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle, Boebert went into the race with scant experience, money and national support. The Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton, was endorsed by President Donald Trump and had been embraced by constituents as a down-the-line conservative.
But that was before the coronavirus lockdown. In early May, with Colorado under stay-at-home orders from Democratic Governor Jared Polis, Boebert defied state policy and reopened her cafe. After Garfield County obtained a temporary restraining order to stop her from serving dine-in customers, she moved tables outside, leading officials to suspend her restaurant license. The dispute generated headlines — and free publicity for Boebert’s campaign — during the crucial final weeks leading into the primary, as the candidate denounced “the heavy hand of government to make us do whatever they want.” She slammed Tipton as a creature of the Washington establishment, and ended up beating him by 9 points in the primary.
With some 150people gathered in Cortez, attendees jostled to reach Boebert, who doled out autographs, hugs and handshakes. Elbow to elbow, the crowd and the candidate sang along with Madison Rising’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” There was nary a face mask in sight and little physical distancing. Covid case counts are low in this part of the state, and the outdoor event itself didn’t violate state rules. But following a spike in cases in July, pandemic restrictions remain in place statewide, including an order to wear a mask while indoors in public, limits on gatherings and bar closures.
In her stump speech, Boebert exhorted attendees to protest these measures by voting her into Congress. “They want to take away our freedoms, our rights, our liberties,” she told the crowd. “They want to tell you where you can shop, when you can shop, what time of day and what you have to wear.”
“This isn’t the proper role of government,” she continued, as attendees shouted, “No way!” “It’s government’s role to inform us of risks and let us use personal responsibility to evaluate that risk ourselves.”