On the heels of a slim victory in the Democratic primary, Adam Frisch is preparing to explain to Colorado — and the nation — why he thinks his candidacy for the state’s 3rd Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert is worth paying attention to.
“We think this is worthy of a national-attention race, because she is so loud, so extreme and so vulnerable electorally,” Frisch, 54, told Colorado Newsline. “We’re going to make a case that there is a moderate Democrat who wants to go work in a bipartisan manner.”
Frisch, a former Aspen City Council member and small business owner, secured the Democratic nomination for the district in the June primary, beating Sol Sandoval by a few hundred votes. He entered the race relatively late — he launched his primary campaign in February compared to Sandoval’s yearlong effort — and fueled the campaign with his personal wealth and a few thousand miles of driving time to put his face in front of voters in the sprawling district that encompasses the Western Slope, San Luis Valley and hooks east into Pueblo County.
He emerged victorious but faces a much steeper battle now in facing off with Boebert in the November general election. The district has a 9-point Republican advantage following last year’s redistricting process, according to a redistricting commission staff analysis.
Shortly after his primary victory, Frisch traveled to Washington, D.C., and New York City to meet with national party figures and others in an effort to boost his profile and attract donors.
“I’m fully aware that we are rowing upstream when it comes to national conversations,” he said. “But the reason I can look people in the eye and say we do have a path to victory is because of the outlandish antics and the lack of focus from Lauren Boebert.”
Boebert has earned a reputation as one of the most conservative members of Congress and has sparked controversy over actions such as islamophobic remarks and interrupting President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address.
Frisch’s motivation to seek office
Frisch was born in North Dakota and spent the first five years of his life on a Native American reservation in Montana, where his father worked in public health. He grew up ski racing and attended the University of Colorado Boulder, where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in economics and political science.
He worked in finance in New York City and moved to Aspen in 2003 with his wife, Katie. He served on the Aspen City Council from 2011 and 2019 and said he is most proud of his work on affordable housing and serving the local small business community during his tenure.
Frisch began looking at the numbers last fall to inform his decision on whether to run for the congressional district, sparked by an inflammatory remark Boebert made (he couldn’t remember which one). He saw her 51% victory in 2020 and the anti-Trump organizations that sprung up since 2016, and thought that the right candidate could convince enough Boebert voters to switch over in light of her performance in Congress.
“Maybe every knucklehead who thinks about running for office thinks ‘Only me,’ but I looked around and thought ‘Who else could really do it?’” he said. He said he did not see a path to victory for the other Democratic candidates in a district composed of about 24% Democratic voters, 31% Republican voters, and 43% unaffiliated voters.
When his son and wife told him they thought he’d have a shot at winning, he said he wasn’t sure the Democratic Party was looking for a “successful, middle-aged, white, straight businessman, let alone from Aspen” to take on Boebert, especially in a district with a large rural and Hispanic population.
“But I thought about it a little bit more. I make up for my lack of intelligence in building good relationships and building coalitions and moving the ball forward,” he said.
Frisch said he thinks his balance of moderation and pragmatism will be attractive to many of those voters disaffected by Boebert.
His numbers game initiated by Boebert’s narrow 2020 victory was bolstered last month by the outcome of the district’s primary, he said, when approximately 55% of voters chose a candidate other than Boebert. In the Republican primary, challenger state Sen. Don Coram captured about 36% of the vote, which Frisch sees as an opportunity. Not every Coram voter will vote for him, but some might.
“We’ll go after these Don Coram voters,” he said. “I think a third of them are not going to talk to a Democrat no matter what. But I do believe that the rest will sit through a lunch with me and listen to me tell my story, talk about how rural America has been left behind by both parties, and that we want someone who is going to focus on the district and take the job seriously.”
Frisch will need to perform some impressive political gymnastics, however, to get close to Boebert as far as name recognition and fundraising. Boebert’s national profile also attracts national dollars. As of the most recent Federal Elections Commission filings, Boebert had about $2.3 million in cash on hand compared to Frisch’s $570,000. Boebert also has the financial advantage of contributions from national super PACs and money leftover from her first campaign. Frisch loaned himself over $2 million during the primary campaign, which was undoubtedly helpful in boosting his profile to voters and clinching the nomination.
Frisch said his campaign will not be shy about telling his story at the national level and in Democratic stronghold cities in order to raise money, but he is also confident he will be able to raise a larger proportion of money from Coloradans than Boebert. His connections in a wealthy town like Aspen, where potential donors vacation and might have an interest in the area’s congressional representation, could be helpful as well.
“We don’t think resources would be the reason we come up short against Boebert. Our team has the financial wherewithal to do it,” he said.
A focus on inflation, water, and rural interests
Frisch said that his main legislative priorities in Congress would be strengthening the economy and reducing inflation, focusing on water issues\ and expanding rural services.
He said he wants to focus on the rural aspects of “big, chunky” areas of policy like health care and education. He noted the reduction of hospital and mental health services in rural Colorado counties over the past decade and wants to work with other representatives from rural parts of the country to figure out how to put those interests back into the conversation.
“Instead of spending time on Twitter or cable news networks or Mar-a-Lago, I think a lot of the grunt work gets done at the subcommittee and committee level. I know that’s not what Lauren Boebert is focused on. We’re going to be focused on doing the boring, grinding work on really important issues,” he said.
He said he recognizes that inflation and the economy will likely be huge driving forces in this election, and that his business experience and understanding of economics will make him a strong problem solver in that area.
Frisch said he wants to be part of the Problem Solvers Caucus if elected, which has members from both parties and is committed to finding common ground on issues. One issue Frisch said he would not compromise on, however, is reproductive health care access in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“It’s important to realize that the conversation won’t be about whether abortion is going to happen or not,” he said. “It will be about how safe and accessible they are and the equity aspect to that. It is important to hold the ground and make sure women have health care access across the country.”
Frisch plans to hit the road again soon in his “Beat Boebert Buggy” to visit with voters across the district. Voters can find out more about his platform and upcoming events online at adamforcolorado.com.
Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: [email protected]. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.