Democrat Gregg Smith is ending his short-lived campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert on Monday, saying he’s now confident there are other progressive candidates who can win in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District next year.
“I’m satisfied that Lauren Boebert will not be a congresswoman in January 2023,” Smith told The Colorado Sun in an interview over the weekend.
Smith, who lives west of Pueblo, in the town of Westcliffe, announced his candidacy about six weeks ago and faced sharp criticism from some Colorado Democrats. He only permanently moved to the state about a year ago and didn’t register as a Democrat until just before announcing his candidacy. Smith also formerly had close ties with Erik Prince, the controversial former head of the private security firm Blackwater, with whom he ran a global logistics business.
Smith said he felt compelled to run against Boebert after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and because the Democratic field to oust the Republican congresswoman was sparse at the time. He quickly amassed a large social media following because of his political connections in Washington, D.C., despite lacking a traditional campaign infrastructure.
“When I watched the events unfold on Jan. 6, I had to do something,” he said. “I wasn’t just going to sit on my ass out here in Westcliffe and do nothing.”
Since Smith announced his candidacy, however, a number of well-known Democrats have filed to run in the 3rd District, including state Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail and state Rep. Donald Valdez of La Jara.
Smith isn’t endorsing any of the Democratic primary candidates for now, but he said he feels a qualified contender will rise from the pack.
The 3rd District sweeps across western Colorado into Pueblo, and its voter registration numbers favor Republicans. Its boundaries are likely to change, however, as the state’s congressional and legislative maps are redrawn ahead of the 2022 election.
Smith, a military veteran, says he has no regrets about launching his campaign because he feels it prompted other Democrats to jump into the race. “I think it’s working out just the way I would have hoped,” he said.
Asked about what will happen to donations made to his campaign, Smith said “all of the campaign funding has been spent appropriately.” He declined to say how much money he raised, but in the coming weeks he will have to disclose that information in quarterly, federal filings.