When Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was caught on video missing a critical vote last week to prevent a default on the debt—and then tried to spin her absence as an act of conscience—she didn’t only earn widespread derision and gawking on social media.
The archconservative congresswoman also gifted her leading Democratic rival, Adam Frisch, a moment that crystallized his case against her for the 2024 election: that she simply isn’t showing up for the job she was elected to perform.
“Besides excused absences for sick family members and other family emergencies, I'm not sure why anyone would be late, let alone practically skip a vote,” Frisch told The Daily Beast in an interview on Monday.
“I don't know what was taking her away from voting on one of the most important bills that the Congress is going to probably have this year,” he added.
For his part, Frisch said he would have voted for the legislation that paired an extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority—which averted a default—with spending cuts and other concessions to Republicans, though characterized it as “not perfect.”
“I don't believe in protest votes by skipping votes, let alone if that's not exactly what happened,” Frisch added.
Since Boebert’s missed vote, Frisch’s campaign has been plugging his fundraising page beneath Twitter posts criticizing her absence. The Democratic hopeful declined to outright say whether he’s seen a fundraising bump since the vote.
The news cycle will move on; certainly, the lightning-rod Boebert will grab headlines for another controversy soon. But for Frisch, who came within 551 votes of a shocking upset of Boebert last year, it would be hard to imagine a better way to set the scene for what he hopes will be a successful rematch with the incumbent Republican next year.
Boebert’s missed vote is a rare opportunity for Frisch to create buzz early in the election cycle—something that is crucial for him, because buzz often leads to fundraising. Frisch told The Daily Beast he lost the last election because “we ran out of time, and we ran out of money last time.”
This time, Frisch started campaigning early—launching within three months of losing to Boebert in 2022—and raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of 2023. He will still have to win a Democratic primary in 2024, but he is considered the strong favorite for a rematch.
If Boebert’s handling of her debt limit vote is indicative of how she’ll serve her second term, Frisch may yet get more opportunities.
Indeed, the receipts of the incident are not kind to the MAGA-world favorite from Colorado. After she missed the vote last Wednesday night, Boebert first claimed the move was a “no-show protest” to a deal and process that she vocally opposed as a capitulation by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to President Joe Biden.
“No excuses. I was ticked off they didn’t let me do my job, so I didn’t take the vote,” Boebert said in a selfie video posted to Twitter Sunday.
It didn’t take long for video to circulate, captured by CNN, showing Boebert running into the Capitol on the night of the vote, heels audibly clacking against the building’s concrete steps. As a CNN reporter noted they’d closed the vote, Boebert turned back with surprise—asking, “they closed it?”—before continuing her sprint into the building. From inside the chamber, The Daily Beast observed that Boebert looked visibly stressed upon entry.
After the vote, Boebert entered a statement into the congressional record, which does not count as a vote but is a tool for belated virtue signaling, saying she was “unavoidably detained” and would have voted “nay.”
In response to questions from The Daily Beast, a Boebert campaign spokesperson said: “Adam Frisch will undoubtedly try any angle to deflect from his enthusiastic support to continue D.C.’s inflationary spending spree while Representative Boebert continues to fight to get spending under control.”
Then, in a follow-up email, a Boebert spokesperson sought to clarify the congresswoman’s Twitter video in a statement that seemed to split hairs.
“When she missed the vote, she took accountability and said she had ‘no excuses.’ In response to the media characterizing the missed vote, she said you can ‘call it a no-show protest.’ She was adamantly opposed to the so-called ‘deal’ from the beginning, and even more so after Members were not allowed to amend the bill,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up explicitly asking whether the congresswoman intentionally missed the vote.
If you ask Frisch, he has no shortage of material to work with in running against Boebert—he argues she’s too extreme, doesn’t work across the aisle, and cares more about culture war fights than the real concerns of her district.
But he’s also trying to paint a bigger picture about Boebert through focusing on her debt vote back-and-forth: that it is part of a pattern.
In the session of Congress beginning in January, Boebert’s rate of missed votes has been among the highest of any member. From January through March, she was in the 89th percentile of missed votes. From April through May, she was in the 96th percentile of missed votes.
In years past, Boebert occasionally teetered on the upper percentiles of missed votes. But her attendance essentially swung back and forth. At one point from January through March 2022, she had a perfect attendance record. But from April through June 2021, she’d also hit the 92nd percentile of missed votes.
From 2020 through 2023, members had the option to proxy vote due to the coronavirus pandemic, a practice many Republicans like Boebert, as well as some Democrats, increasingly opposed.
As he campaigns throughout the district, Frisch said he’s trying to drive the argument home to voters that Boebert’s missed default vote was far from a one-off.
Notably, that narrative is also being amplified by national Democrats, who did not prioritize defeating Boebert in 2022 but have identified her as a top target for 2024. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s official House campaign arm, noticed Boebert’s absence on the debt vote and seized on it.
“Lauren Boebert is incapable of telling the truth or at the very least, apologizing for making a mistake,” Viet Shelton, DCCC spokesperson, told The Daily Beast in a statement. “After winning by one of the narrowest margins in the country last year, Boebert has failed to fulfill her constitutional duty to vote on legislation—then she lied about it. Coloradans deserve better.”
Frisch said voters in the district seemed to expect Boebert to show some more discipline after coming so close to losing her seat last year—and finding herself a top Democratic target. For now, he says he’s not seeing that switch.
“She’s not focused on the job,” Frisch said. “She’s focused on herself.”