(AP) – Democratic State Sen. Kerry Donovan formally announced Thursday she will challenge Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in the 2022 election, setting the stage for a nationally watched political showdown in Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District. Donovan is the third Democrat to already announce she’s taking on Boebert after the congresswoman has spent only one month in office.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, on Jan. 14, 2021.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan on Jan. 14. (credit: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The owner of a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Boebert has already become a national lightning rod for arguing she can bring a pistol onto the floor of the House of Representatives, voting to overturn President Joe Biden’s election and being accused of encouraging the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Rep. Lauren Boebert during a group photo with freshmen members of the House Republican Conference on the House steps of the Capitol on Jan. 4, 2021.

Rep. Lauren Boebert during a group photo with freshmen members of the House Republican Conference on the House steps of the Capitol on Jan. 4, 2021. (credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The other two Democrats who have announced they’ll challenge Boebert — Gregg Smith, a rancher and former Marine, and Colin Wilhelm, a Glenwood Springs attorney. But Donovan is the first challenger with a strong electoral track record. She is considered a rising star in Colorado Democratic politics.

Her announcement video focused on her life as a rancher outside of Vail and featured images of Donovan wearing a cowboy hat and discussing “real toughness.”

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Sen. Kerry Donovan

Sen. Kerry Donovan (credit: CBS)

Boebert’s sprawling district runs from Pueblo through the heart of Colorado ski country to the western slope. The boundaries may change as a result of redistricting and it’s unclear Donovan’s home will end up within the district.

In an interview Thursday, Donovan said she didn’t want to wait until the new lines were drawn because her current constituents are already in the congressional district. “This part of Colorado needs a congresswoman who is more concerned about getting results than getting headlines,” Donovan said.

By NICHOLAS RICCARDI Associated Press

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