In the months before her upset victory over fellow Republican Scott Tipton, Colorado congressional candidate Lauren Boebert developed a loud-mouthed fan base among a key group of Colorado conservatives: talk radio hosts.
Boebert was a regular guest on Colorado talk radio stations, mostly on KNUS 710-AM, but also on competing stations, giving updates on her campaign and the saga about her restaurant, Shooters Grill, which she refused to close despite orders to do so to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The dozen or so radio interviews confirm the portrait Boebert creates of herself on social media, as an aggressive, media-savvy politician, who delivers zingers more effectively than the zinger-delivery experts on the radio.
“Did you ever think that in your lifetime you would be labeled defiant simply because you want to run your business in a responsible manner?” Boebert was asked on KFKA’s Mornings with Gail May 19.
“No. You know, flattening the curve turned into communism very quickly,” Boebert replied, referring to government health orders, like the one resulting in the temporary shutdown of her restaurant, where the wait staff openly carry guns, even including her servers who are under 18 years old.
Boebert defied Colorado’s mandate to shut her restaurant, eliciting a cease-and-desist order from the Garfield County Public Health Department. So, she faced losing her business license.
But it turned out to be a great PR opportunity. She was the star of her own populist story, thrilling far-right Republicans who listen to talk radio shows and populate her sprawling district around southwestern Colorado.
“The Garfield County Public Health Department is trying so intensely to make an example out of me and make business owners criminals,” she told KNUS’ Peter Boyles May 22. “…We don’t have DC lobbyists. We don’t have a bunch of lawyers on retainer ready to go. They know they have the heavy hand of government to make us do whatever they want.”
“We are not going to cower. We are going to conquer,” she told Boyles.
“What they missed is, I’m a Christian. So they may have drove me to my knees. But that’s where I’m the strongest,” she told Boyles in an update five days later.
Boebert’s refusal to shut down her restaurant, along with other telegenic antics and quick soundbites, became top-shelf media attractions, on talk radio and beyond, making her a celebrity in her town of Rifle.
“Shooters Grill is a tourist destination,” Boebert bragged to Gail Fallon on KFKA on May 19. “When you stop at the visitors center in Rifle, and you say, ‘Hey, what’s the number one asked question,’ they say, ‘Everyone wants to know where the restaurant is where the girls carry guns.’”
When it comes to the issues, Boebert sounds much like a talk radio host, articulating a vision of Colorado, scraped clean of undocumented immigrants, full of people carrying guns, humming with oil-and-gas rigs, and with someone like Trump, not Polis, as governor. (And where masks are tolerantly optional in all settings, indoor and out).
The anti-Polis part isn’t surprising for many reasons, including the fact that Sherrona Bishop, Boebert’s campaign manager, was a leader of the Polis recall efforts.
Tipton’s Stance on Immigration Inspired Boebert’s Candidacy
Boebert likes to tell the talk-radio crowd that it was immigration that inspired her to unseat Tipton.
Tipton’s vote for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which aimed to address labor needs among Colorado farms, ranches, and fruit-growers, incensed Boebert. The proposed law would have allowed more farmworkers and their spouses and children to extend temporary visas and gain residency status in the United States, provided housing assistance to farmworkers, and implemented an E-verify system to track workers.
But Boebert couldn’t stand for her congressperson voting “to give at least one million illegal immigrants amnesty and then one billion of our taxpayer dollars to provide for their housing.”
Her stance against a bill that would likely have helped many in her rural district surprises some, but her hard-line stance against guns does not.
Lost Guns in Fake Boating Accident?
You’d expect Boebert to be uncompromising when it comes to guns, and it turns out she is.
In a Jan. 7 interview on KHOW, she even implied that she’s pretended to lose her guns so that the government doesn’t know she has them.
KHOW Guest Host Leland Conway: I bought my first AR-15 in the state of Virginia. And I find it kind of ironic that they’re about to go take them away from people and kind of glad I’m not there anymore. Although I lost my AR-15 and all my other guns, Lauren, in an unfortunate boating accident. So, you know.
Boebert: Right, you know, I was in a similar accident! It’s weird!
Conway: Yes. It’s weird how us gun owners keep getting into boating accidents. I don’t know what’s going on here.
Boebert did not return a call seeking to know more about the fake accident and the guns involved.
No Time to Get a Gun Permit
Boebert loves telling the story on the radio about how she started carrying a gun openly on her hip because you don’t need a permit in Colorado to do so, unless the practice is banned by local ordinance.
And she didn’t have time to “prove my innocence and wait for a permit” required to carry a concealed weapon.
A murder near her restaurant “immediately prompted the question, how will you defend your people?” she told Ross Kaminsky on KHOW.
“And so I took action and I began to carry as a mother of four,” she continued on air. “I did not have time–I’m a new business owner–not the time nor the resources to go out and sit through a class, pay my government a fee to prove my innocence and wait for their permit to come in. So I began to open carry. I took advantage of Colorado’s open carry law. And I began to carry in the restaurant. Soon after that, my waitresses began to carry. And the next thing you know, Nightline 20/20 was in there doing a story called Shooter’s Grill, the safest restaurant in America.”
Boebert said on air that Colorado’s red flag law, which allows police to take weapons from people deemed dangerous by a judge, would destroy the First and Second Amendments.
And it would rob her of her ability to defend herself “against he government,” she says.
“[The left is] leaning towards tyrannical right now,” she told KLZ radio December 6. “And also, you know, if the left wants me to believe that my president is tyrannical, then they darn well better stop trying to take my guns, because I have the right to be armed, to defend myself against a government as such. “
Yes to Oil and Gas; No to Wind and Solar
“I can point directly to Congressman Tipton and say he is at fault for us losing our energy industry here on the Western Slope of Colorado,” she told KNUS’ Randy Corporon April 18. “We have coal-fired energy plants that are shutting down. Our coal mines are shutting down. Our natural gas production is shutting down. Why? Because Congressman Tipton and Jared Polis got together nearly ten years ago and decided to push the Green New Deal and incentivize wind and solar on our federal lands by subsidizing them.”
Boebert clearly inspires the talk radio crowd with this kind of rhetoric. Her can-do logic is uplifting, her youth energizing. She gives them hope.
Why should anyone be forced to wear a mask?
“Masks are a personal preference,” she told KNUS’ Steffan Tubbs July 2.
Why would the government even think about shutting down her restaurant during the pandemic?
“No one was forcing anyone to come to Shooters’ Grill,” she said on KFKA May 19; the government shouldn’t tell her customers what to do.
You can see the talk-radio audience giving her a standing ovation.
CORRECTION: This post initially stated that KNUS is the “largest” talk radio station in Colorado. It may have the most locally-produced shows, but it does not have the biggest audience.