VOTE 2020: Republican Lauren Boebert wins Western Slope House race

DENVER  |  Republican Lauren Boebert has won the Colorado House seat held by five-term GOP Rep. Scott Tipton.

The owner of Shooters Grill, an open carry, “family friendly” restaurant, Boebert defeated Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state lawmaker and Routt County commissioner.

Boebert, a first-time candidate for public office, pulled off the upset of the summer by soundly defeating Tipton, a co-chair of President Donald Trump’s Colorado reelection campaign, in the Republican primary in June.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DENVER (AP) — A hard-fought Colorado U.S. House race pitting first-time candidate and outspoken Republican Lauren Boebert against Democrat and former state lawmaker Diane Mitsch Bush was too early to call Tuesday night, with many votes still uncounted.

The winner will replace five-term Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, who was upset in a June primary by Boebert, a gun rights activist who attracted national attention as the owner of an open carry restaurant and her ardent support of President Donald Trump.

Both seek to become the first woman to represent the 3rd Congressional District, a swath of western and southern Colorado that includes the old steel city of Pueblo and the Republican stronghold of Grand Junction’s Mesa County. Its economy is built on oil and gas production, mining, ranching and tourism.

Boebert declared victory late Tuesday in a Facebook statement from her Shooters Grill restaurant in Rifle. Mitsch Bush later issued a statement conceding the race.

The bitter campaign topped the list of Colorado’s U.S. House races, thanks in part to Trump’s rapid embrace of Boebert, who traveled thousands of miles to personally rally voters. A Glock strapped to the hip, she defended gun rights and blasted what she calls a Democrat plan to strip away Americans’ freedoms under the guise of controlling the coronavirus and expanding health care.

In her second run for the seat, Mitsch Bush stressed a bipartisan record in the statehouse and as a former commissioner in Steamboat Springs’ Routt County. She defended the Affordable Care Act, which she says protects more than 300,000 people in her district with pre-existing conditions.

Mitsch Bush insists Boebert would do away with those protections — without offering an alternative — in a district with some of the highest health insurance premiums and fewest insurers in the country.

She calls Boebert short on policy and big on celebrity. In the campaign’s latter stages, she won an endorsement from Russ George, a former Republican state House speaker from the district.

Boebert insists her opponent’s support for green energy would eliminate thousands of oil and gas industry jobs (Mitsch Bush says she supports a long-term transitional strategy). Boebert also openly distrusts the news media, insists a “deep state” has it in for Trump, and, as a prolific tweeter, she routinely lashes out at national Democrats.

In suburban Denver, Democrat U.S. Rep. Jason Crow was reelected to represent Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Crow — the first Democrat ever to represent the district — defeated Republican challenger Steve House, a former gubernatorial candidate and chair of Colorado’s Republican Party.

In 2018, Crow became the first Democrat to represent the 6th District by riding a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to defeat five-term Republican incumbent Mike Coffman.

House ran on a platform of immigration, education and health care reform. He faced a steeply uphill battle against Crow in a district where nearly one in five residents was born overseas.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.