US midterms: Pro- and anti-Trump Republicans are different in Colorado

In states ruled by Democrats, a far-right candidate will win another term in the US Congress - while his moderate Republican counterpart will lose his bid for the Senate. The Colorado race is the capsule of the rift that shaped national politics.

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A few hours' drive from Denver, the capital city in central Colorado, a large sign could be seen from the side of the highway: a white background, pink and black font, pasted on a large old trailer.

"This Is Boebert's Country," it read.

"Boebert" refers to Lauren Boebert.

The 35-year-old Republican represents Colorado's third congressional district, a vast expanse that stretches across the western half of the state. Although he has not passed a single bill in his first term, Boebert has emerged as one of the most notorious Republican newcomers to Congress for his shameless Trumpism.

He opted for regular fights with fellow Democrats - labeling one group the "Jihad Forces" - and falsely claiming that liberals had legalized "knowingly spreading HIV". A staunch defender of gun rights, he vowed to take his gun to the Capitol. The Boeberts' 2021 family Christmas card features a photo of the congressman and his three young sons, all holding rifles.

That extraordinary brand of Republicanism stands in stark contrast to the party's Senate candidate, 60-year-old Joe O'Dea. Unlike Ms Boebert, Mr O'Dea supports abortion access and immigration reform, and says he will actively campaign against former President Donald Trump if he runs again.

Two political newcomers - Ms Boebert and Mr O'Dea - offer a picture of the Republican Party at war with itself. And in Colorado ahead of the election, Ms Boebert's party is in control: she is on track to win, while Mr O'Dea is expected to lose. Some of Colorado's political loopholes can be understood through its geography.

As a candidate running for office across the state, O'Dea had to appeal to the political center, while Boebert had a much more restrained constituency. Nearly all of "Boebert's Country", including cities like Durango, Grand Junction and Ms Boebert's home of the Rifle, is on the west side of the so-called 'Great Divide' - the literal rift in the earth that forms the Rocky Mountains.

It's mostly rural, mostly white, and mostly Republican. The poverty rate is almost double that of the state as a whole. This area, called the West Slope, is effectively separated from the rest of Colorado - the ice-covered mountains act as an ideological and physical barrier.

"Western Slope" is also short for blue-collar, pro-gun, anti-elitism, which is in opposition to liberal heavens like Boulder and Denver, where a Democrat sits in the governor's house.

"The population center, the economic center, the political center are all on the other side of the mountain range," said Justin Gollob, a professor of politics at the University of Colorado Mesa. People living in the West are attracted by its alienation, says Gollob. But it also breeds hatred, a feeling of being trampled on and ignored by the Democrats in charge in Denver and Washington.

"I think it's an attitude that, you know, we live in a civilized world and you guys are a bunch of rednecks," said Kevin McCarney, insurance adviser and local Republican chairman.

On the way, Ms Boebert - who has spoken of growing up on government benefits - spoke firsthand of the anger and alienation bubbling through the West Slope, railing against "radical" Democrats, who were "destroying America".

"She's grounded. I can relate to her, I can relate to her background," says Jennifer Wilcox, who runs the district's nonprofit organization for women living in poverty.

In Colorado last week, many residents also expressed concern and disbelief that President Biden would commit billions to student loan forgiveness as the blue-collar family struggles amid soaring inflation.

"Only about a third of adults in this country have a college degree. A little less than that in [the third district]," said Adam Frisch, the Democrat against Boebert. "This is why Democrats are losing support in rural America ... it's the most tone-deaf."

An analysis of national election results by NBC News found that while Bill Clinton won more than 50% of all rural counties in 1996, Barack Obama only won half of that in 2008. Joe Biden fared worse, winning less than 5% in 2020.

Mr Frisch took his party affiliation lightly, being careful to distance himself from the party's left wing. "I spend a lot of time telling people that I don't have a blue horn growing on my head," he said.

Some Democrats, such as the sitting governor of Colorado or Mr O'Dea's opponent, Senator Michael Bennet, have found a solution to the lack of rural support, relying on strong support from dense urban centers and then attracting suburban voters - a bloc that was wooed by both sides. party .

It was the suburban-registered Republican Party that helped O'Dea to victory over his far-right opponent in the primaries. His win was "an exception to the current Republican rule", said Gunner Ramer, political director of the Republican Accountability Project, an anti-Trump Republican group. "Across Donald Trump's country, election denialists and anti-establishment candidates have taken over Republicans at all levels of government."

But the Republican nominee may lose out next week, lacking the urban popularity that Democrats have to offer as well as the populist fervor for the "Maga" star. He is five points behind in the Senate election, according to recent poll averages.

As a result, she will be blackmailed from both sides while Ms Boebert sails for re-election. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.

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