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A little-known Jewish candidate has come close to unseating one of Congress’ most outspoken conspiracy theorists

The race between Adam Frisch and Lauren Boebert is likely heading to a recount 

A Jewish former member of the Aspen City Council is running neck and neck with one of the most outspoken conspiracy theorists in Congress — Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Adam Frisch has shocked political pundits who had given the relatively unknown candidate little chance against Boebert, who is most famous for her combative pro-gun rhetoric and heckling President Joe Biden during this year’s State of the Union address. She also falsely claims that he did not win the 2020 election.

Frisch, a 55-year-old businessman, has gained a national fan base not so much for his own candidacy but for his challenge to one of the most polarizing members of Congress.

As of Friday afternoon, Republican Boebert led Democrat Frisch by just 1,122 votes in Colorado’s third district, where more than 300,000 ballots were cast. Frisch had held a lead of 64 votes at one point on Thursday.

Colorado law calls for an automatic recount in elections where the difference between the leader and second place is less than 0.5%. An election official Friday said that it could take days before all the ballots were counted, and that a recount was almost certain. Redistricting upped the proportion of Democrats in the third district since Boebert first won election in 2020, but Republicans still outnumber Democrats 30.9% to 23.7% and a plurality of voters is unaffiliated, according to state election data.

While votes were still being tallied on Wednesday, Frisch thanked his supporters on social media, saying they had cast votes “against hate.”

Who is Adam Frisch?

Frisch, who sat on the Aspen City Council from 2011 to 2019, has spoken little publicly about his Jewish background, though in one interview with Jewish Insider he described himself as a “moderate, pragmatic Jew.” He was born and spent his earliest years on a Montana tribal reservation where his father was a health care provider, before the family moved to Minneapolis, according to several profiles.  And he moved to Colorado from New York City after two “near misses,” according to the Durango Herald. Frisch was working in the World Trade Center in 1993 when a truck bomb exploded in its parking garage and he had just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013 when a domestic terrorist detonated a bomb.

Other profiles have him graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in economics.

During his campaign to represent Colorado’s third district, which is largely rural but includes the cities of Aspen and Grand Junction, Frisch positioned himself as a moderate Democrat who holds progressive positions on abortion and the environment but also supports the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Boebert, 35, is a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump and ran a gun-themed restaurant before she was elected to Congress in 2016.

There are just 6,000 Jews in the mostly Western Colorado district, accounting for just over 1% of the population, according to a 2021 Steinhardt Social Research Institute report on the state’s Jewish electorate.

Jason Schnissel, executive director of Aspen Jewish Congregation — one of the city’s two synagogues — said those numbers may be misleading, as the tourist destination sees many Jews living there for just part of the year. But he described a community that is “very civically engaged.”

According to the Steinhardt report, 64% of Colorado Jews vote Democrat. Schnissel said the community had rallied behind Frisch.

“Members of the congregation step up to support causes that they believe in,” he said.

Many in the district had enough of  Boebert’s peddling of misinformation and confrontational posture, he added. Frisch “was a candidate that this community could get behind and feel good in supporting, somebody that stood up against many of the myths, mistruths, or disinformation that exist in the current political world.”

Among the many incidents for which Boebert made national headlines, in January, she asked a group of religious Jews visiting the Capitol if they were there to conduct “reconnaissance.” She has also openly promoted Christian nationalism, saying the church should guide the government. And she has also been accused of aiding the Jan. 6 insurrection by posting the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to her Twitter account.

Last month, her Republican primary challenger Don Coram crossed party lines to endorse Frisch, writing in an op-ed column for the Montrose Press that the candidate is “a good man” while denouncing Boebert as “disgraceful.”

“Bottom line, instead of working to represent the people in the 3rd CD, Lauren spends her time jet-setting around the country promoting herself and extreme rhetoric that only divides this country further,” Coram wrote.

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