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Lauren Boebert is not the first lawmaker to consider Carpetbagging

Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York, Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Matt Gaetz of Florida
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Taking Back the Judicial Action Fund; Bill Clark/CQ-Appel via Getty Images

  • Rep. Lauren Boebert is switching districts in an effort to improve her re-election chances.
  • This is a tactic commonly referred to as “carpetbagging.”
  • But she’s far from the first person to do it — or at least consider the idea.

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert announced Wednesday that she will run for office in a Republican-leaning district on the opposite side of Colorado from where she currently lives.

It’s a brazen move – not only because she faced an uphill re-election fight in her most competitive district, but because it amounts to an admission that ideology and values ​​ultimately win out. on the task of representing the interests of a particular constituency.

Historically, it’s called “carpetbagging,” a term that dates back to the aftermath of the Civil War, when it emerged as a Southern epithet for the dozens of Northerners who moved to the area to become members of Congress and governors.

These days, it’s shorthand for a different kind of geographic opportunism, made possible by the nationalization of politics and the cultivation of celebrity brands that extend beyond the confines of a single House district.

And historically, this is really not a rare phenomenon.

Hillary Clinton was accused of “carpetbagging” when she ran for Senate in New York in 2000, and Pennsylvania seems to be suffering from an epidemic of the phenomenon lately. In 2017, the Washington Post identified more than 20 lawmakers who were technically registered to vote outside their districts.

Here are some of the most notable examples from recent years.

Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones of New York

Tom Williams/CQ-Appel via Getty Images

In 2020, Mondaire Jones was elected to represent a district well north of New York City, including parts of Westchester County and the Hudson Valley.

Then came redistricting.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, then chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, chose to run in a district in which Jones might have sought to run. Maloney ultimately lost to Republican Rep. Mike Lawler.

The move sparked progressive outrage at the time, with many saying Maloney should have run in a tougher district to the north.

Unwilling to run against neighboring Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Jones instead launched a campaign in a newly drawn district that covered lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

He ended up losing the Democratic primary to Dan Goldman, elected to Congress in 2022.

This year, Jones is running for Congress again — in the district Maloney lost to Lawler.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia

Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia at the Capitol on November 29, 2023.
Tom Williams/CQ-Appel via Getty Images

It’s now lost in the sands of time, but Marjorie Taylor Greene didn’t always live in far northwest Georgia.

Although she now represents the state’s 14th District, Greene initially launched a campaign in 2019 for the state’s 6th District, in suburban Atlanta, where she has long lived.

But she later abandoned those plans, choosing to run in the 14th District after the incumbent congressman announced his retirement.

Greene then moved to Rome, a town in the district, and continues to live there to this day.

Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) announced her divorce Wednesday, just under a year after marrying her wife, Christina Bayardelle Cawthorn.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Before losing his primary to a relatively quiet state senator last year, former Rep. Madison Cawthorn had gotten a little too ambitious with his state’s congressional map.

After a series of redistrictings, Cawthorn announced he would run in a district largely east of his home district — and much safer for Republicans — in order to “gain ground” for conservatism .

It was also seen as an attempt to thwart North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, who Cawthorn said was not conservative enough.

He told an interviewer that he was “afraid another establishment Republican party would prevail there.”

But then the districts were redrawn and Cawthorn chose to run for his old district a few months later.

While his eventual defeat was due at least in part to the controversy he stirred up in Washington, it may also have been motivated by his initial plans to abandon the district for which he had been elected.

Republican Representative Alex Mooney of West Virginia

Bill Clark/CQ-Appel via Getty Images

Rep. Alex Mooney has steadily advanced in West Virginia politics, being elected to the House in 2014 before defeating fellow candidate David McKinley in a member-versus-member race in 2022 after the state lost a district.

He is now the primary opposition to Gov. Jim Justice — the national GOP leadership’s preferred candidate — in the U.S. Senate race to replace Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

But Mooney’s political career began in neighboring Maryland, where he served in the state Senate from 1999 to 2011. He then served as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party until 2013.

Then came 2014.

Two years earlier, Mooney had filed to run in a Maryland congressional district, but was forced to withdraw his candidacy in order to comply with House ethics rules regarding running to succeed one’s own boss ( at the time he was employed part-time by a Maryland congressman).

In 2013, Mooney moved to Charles Town, a town in eastern West Virginia, not far from his former district, and was elected to a House seat in his new adopted state in 2014.

Mehmet Oz (and David McCormick) in Pennsylvania

Republican Senate candidates Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.
Jeff Swensen and Win McNamee/Getty Images

There’s just something about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Last year, Mehmet Oz — the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate — was convinced he was a wealthy foreigner who knew little about the state he sought to represent.

It was a theme that Oz’s Democratic opponent — now Sen. John Fetterman – capitalized largely via memes. It also didn’t help that Oz’s primary residence was in neighboring New Jersey.

But the accusations of carpetbagging don’t stop with the former TV doctor.

David McCormick, who was a runner-up last year and is the presumptive GOP Senate nominee next year, also lives outside Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press revealed earlier this year that McCormick lived primarily in Connecticut, a state that doesn’t even border Pennsylvania.

His campaign defended the arrangement, pointing out that McCormick owns a home in the Pittsburgh area and grew up in Pennsylvania.

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, speaks to reporters after the historic ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Before becoming former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief antagonist, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz reportedly considered trying to become a senator — from Alabama.

According to a 2019 report from The Hill, the Florida congressman told colleagues he was considering running against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in 2020. Gaetz represents a district in Florida that borders the state.

And he didn’t outright deny the idea when asked about it.

“A few people have mentioned to me that Alabama has a very short residency requirement, but it’s not something I’ve looked into myself,” Gaetz told The Hill at the time. “I think my most likely path would be to run for re-election to the House.”

Gaetz ultimately followed this path, and now Sen. Tommy Tuberville – who himself may live in Gaetz’s Florida district – beat Jones in 2020.

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