DENVER (AP) — The race for U.S. Republican Lauren Boebert remained extremely close Thursday and could be heading for a recount in the GOP’s re-election bid against Democrat Adam Frisch, a former city council member from the ski town. upscale from Aspen, Colorado.

The closeness of the race has captured national attention as Republicans edge closer to the 218 seats that would give them control of the US House. Boebert was considered a lock in the state’s sprawling and conservative 3rd congressional district. But she trailed on election night and only took a lead of around 1,200 votes after two days of extra counting with thousands of ballots to be tallied. The margin gave him a 0.4 percentage point lead, within the 0.5 point margin that triggers an automatic recount.

Boebert, a staunch Trump loyalist, casts herself as a fighter in a wider cultural crusade for the soul of the nation and has earned a spot in the so-called ‘MAGA Squad’ alongside Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Even as a freshman rep, Boebert’s brash style earned her national television appearances, widespread notoriety, and a loyal following.

During President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in March, Boebert interrupted a somber moment about Biden’s son to blame the president for 13 military personnel killed during the US pullout in Afghanistan.

Frisch faced long odds after redistricting made the already conservative district, which elected former President Donald Trump by a 15-point margin in 2016, more Republican. But the Democratic challenger, who downplayed his political party and presented a pro-business, pro-energy platform, remained adamant that Republican voters were tired of what he called the Boebert’s “anger” and bet on some of the GOP voters jumping ship.

For Frisch, the narrow margin in the elections testifies to his ability to build a broad bipartisan coalition by presenting himself as a moderate.

If Boebert loses, it would be another blow to the GOP’s disappointing results Tuesday night after the expected red wave never reached shore.

But Boebert and his supporters weren’t considering that option on Thursday.

“We are confident that Lauren Boebert will be re-elected,” said Courtney Parella, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, whose mission is to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives.

On Thursday morning, Boebert tweeted “Winning!”

Shortly after, Frisch wrote in a statement, “The proximity of this race speaks to the fact that people in western and southern Colorado are growing weary of the anger industry of which Boebert is a part. and want a representative who will fight for bipartisan solutions.

During the campaign, Boebert and Frisch clashed less over political issues and more over character. The incumbent claimed Frisch was a closed leftist who would abandon his conservative platform once in Congress, while the challenger presented himself as a competent and tempered alternative.

Both Frisch’s and Boebert’s campaigns said they are watching the race closely in anticipation of further ballot drops in counties still counting votes and neither has reached out to lawyers.

In closely guarded Pueblo County, exhausted election workers were processing about 3,200 mail-in ballots Thursday and 1,800 in-person ballots on the final day, said Gilbert Ortiz, the county clerk and recorder.

In Colorado, county election commissions have until Nov. 30 to certify their election results and submit them to the secretary of state’s office, which has a Dec. 5 deadline to issue its own certification or order recounts. mandatory. Any recount requested by a candidate or other parties must be paid for by that candidate or another party and must be completed by December 15.

Election officials urged the public to be patient, saying the vote counting was proceeding according to established procedure, with no irregularities reported.

The sprawling district covers much of western and southern Colorado, including ranches, ski resorts and national forest lands as well as the cities of Pueblo and Grand Junction. Grand Junction is in Mesa County, where county clerk Tina Peters has been charged with allegedly allowing outsiders to break into its electoral system. She was prevented from supervising the elections there.

In Pueblo County, the count would take all day, Ortiz said. And under state law, officials have nine days after Election Day, or until Nov. 17, to receive overseas and military ballots, as well as to “cure” or verify. ballots in hand that have voter signatures that cannot be immediately verified, he said. Some of Pueblo County’s bipartisan citizen elections judges, who open and verify ballots and feed them into machines, have left for other commitments or burnout, which means there are fewer people available to process the ballots, Ortiz said.

“We just want to make sure our numbers are accurate, and we’re not willing to sacrifice accuracy for speed,” Ortiz said. “At this point, we just want to finish today.”

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This story corrects Tina Peters’ last name.

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Associated Press writers James Anderson and Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.

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Jesse Bedayn is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.