Lauren Boebert’s first week in Congress lives up to her controversial campaign promises

It’s been a little over a week since Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was sworn into Congress. In that time, she has received a warning from the police chief in Washington, D.C., for appearing to violate the city’s gun laws, used her first floor speech to cast doubt on the 2020 election, voted to overturn the results of that election, falsely claimed rioters at the U.S. Capitol were not conservatives, saw protests at all of her Colorado offices and was censored by Twitter for falsely accusing the Democratic National Committee of rigging elections.

But that’s not all: A Republican colleague criticized her for tweeting during the Capitol riot. A South Carolina GOP representative reportedly called her a QAnon conspiracy theorist. A Democratic colleague from Colorado publicly called her a fool. A dozen members of Colorado’s legislature said she should resign. 

And, on Tuesday night, she refused to let Capitol Police search her bag for a gun after setting off a metal detector at the entrance to House chambers. The metal detectors, she said, are a “political stunt” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“She has made a little bit of waves at the Capitol already,” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, one of Boebert’s earliest supporters, said during a Jan. 4 Facebook Live event. It was Boebert’s second day in office.

She has been attention-grabbing, provocative and undoubtedly controversial. In other words, Boebert is who her supporters and critics expected her to be in D.C. And all before Wednesday’s House vote to impeach President Donald Trump a second time — a move she has said she will oppose.

Her short political career has been propelled by her ability to bring attention to herself during the campaign right up until this month, which started with a Jan. 3 video that purported to show her illegally carrying a gun in Washington (her office later said she was not carrying). But she has also been aided by her political party, which gave her a prime speaking spot on the House floor on Jan. 6, which she used to loudly denounce Arizona’s election results just before rioters forced their way into the Capitol.

Boebert’s actions have been analyzed and reanalyzed in the week since it happened. She had promoted Jan. 6 as a day when the election could be overturned, told her supporters that Trump should not pack his bags just yet and repeatedly compared it to 1776, the year of America’s revolution. As the rioters closed in, she tweeted updates, leading to specious allegations she was aiding the riots.

“They accuse me of live-tweeting the (House) speaker’s presence after she had been safely removed from the Capitol, as if I was revealing some big secret, when it fact this removal was also being broadcast on TV,” Boebert said in a lengthy statement Monday.

Boebert shocked U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, in last summer’s primary by appealing to 3rd Congressional District conservatives who either didn’t know their low-key congressman or didn’t care for his quiet, media-shy style of politics. They wanted a yeller, a fighter, a provocateur.

“Were Tipton still in office today, it seems unlikely that he would be embracing conspiracy theories or joining … efforts to overturn a presidential election,” Seth Masket, a professor of political science at the University of Denver, wrote in the Post this week. “Disturbingly, that’s probably why he lost the primary.”

Like Trump, Boebert often turns a defense of her actions into a rhetorical attack on Democrats. Ask about last week’s right-wing riot and she will tell you about last summer’s left-wing riots. Ask about Trump, and she will tell you about Joe Biden.

Boebert’s ascendancy comes at a time when the Republican Party is divided over how to respond to the Capitol breach. She has signaled opposition to any formal denunciations of the president, including censure and impeachment, and steadfastly defended her role in trying to overturn the presidential election before and after the riot.

Many of her colleagues have been less willing to defend both her and Trump.

“The Constitution calls for a peaceful transfer of power and, regrettably, many of my Republican colleagues this week took part in an effort to undermine that peaceful transition by objecting to the electoral counting process,” said Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who campaigned with Boebert last year but disagrees with her “misguided from the start” objection to the election.

In about one week, Trump will be out of office. And while Democratic suggestions that she resign or be expelled from Congress under the 14th Amendment are unlikely to succeed, supporters and critics of Boebert expect her to remain loud, brash and uncompromising.

“Although her mentor and touchstone will be leaving office, if not politics, on Jan. 20, she’s likely to maintain outsized and highly controversial influence due to her media talent for drama and conflict, and the needs of conservative media, especially online, to generate fresh copy for their audience,” Floyd Ciruli, an independent pollster and University of Denver professor, wrote recently. “It remains to be seen if her position is the future or a dead end in the Republican Party.”

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