DENVER (CBS4) – The success of disrupters like President Donald Trump and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have inspired a wave of wannabe candidates who are colorful, combative and cater to the extremes of their parties.
The trend is evident in the Republican Primary in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.
Congressman Scott Tipton is a solid conservative, 5-term incumbent, endorsed by President Trump. What he’s not is a firebrand ideologue with a take-no-prisoners kind of style. That’s Lauren Boebert. The gun-toting political newcomer is challenging Tipton.
“He’s drawn a challenger who thinks he’s not confrontational enough, and doesn’t think he’s strong enough. It’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around that, but that’s the nature of her candidacy,” said CBS4 Republican analyst Dick Wadhams. He says it’s the kind of style over substance candidacy emboldened by popular agitators on the right and left.
Where experience and moderation once mattered, candidates with neither are gaining traction.
CBS4 Democratic analyst Mike Dino says the bomb-throwing approach appeals to voters alienated from government and the party establishment.
“They don’t really feel that whoever they vote for is going to make a difference, so they go for somebody who they feel is a straight talker, who is telling truth way they want the truth to be told.”
But the more polarized the candidates, Dino and Wadhams say, the more paralyzed Congress.
“We’re already seeing in Congress how an ideological minority party can drive the agenda,” said Wadhams. “I think it will drive the parties further apart as more of these challengers get elected.”
Wadhams and Dino expect Tipton will win his primary, but they say we’ll continue to see more insurgents. They’re not only working traditional media with attention grabbing statements, but many of them have mastered social media to raise money and attract voters.