DENVER – It’s been just over five months since the 2016 General Election, but two 2018 congressional races in Colorado are already heating up.
State Sen. Andy Kerr, a Democrat from Jefferson County, announced his bid for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District seat in an event a Dunstan Middle School in Lakewood – a school he attended years ago.
Kerr’s announcement comes days after state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, another Jefferson County Democrat, announced her bid for the same seat, which is currently occupied by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who announced his bid for Colorado’s governorship on Sunday.
Kerr and Pettersen have both spent the majority of their lives in Jefferson County and have experience in state government.
Kerr served as the District 26 House representative from 2006 to 2013, when he switched to the state senate after being elected as the District 22 senator in 2012. While in the House, he served as assistant majority leader of the House.
A former teacher and education architect for Jeffco Public Schools who still teaches through the district’s online program, Kerr currently sits on the appropriations, finance, legislative council and business, labor and technology committees in the senate.
He has narrowly won his past two senate elections: In 2012, Kerr defeated Republican Ken Summers 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent; and in 2014, he defeated a strong challenge from Republican Tony Sanchez, eventually winning re-election by less than 1,400 votes.
He says he champions education, women’s rights issues, renewable energy and labor issues.
Pettersen was first elected to the state House in 2012 and serves currently as the House Deputy Majority Whip, while also chairing the House Education Committee and sitting on its public health care and human services committee.
She champions education and economic-related issues and proudly has declared she is the first in her family to graduate from both high school and college.
“The threat from Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress is real…I will stand up to Donald Trump and make sure regular people have a voice,” says a statement on her website.
Since she was first elected in 2012 as the District 28 representative by defeating Amy Attwood by almost 10 percentage points, she has continued to perform well in elections. Petterson won re-election in 2014 by a 10 percent-margin, then received nearly 8,000 more votes than Nancy Pallozzi in her re-election again last year.
His closest race came in 2014, when he defeated Don Ytterberg by nearly 28,000 votes (10.2 percent).
6th Congressional District likely to be battle once again
Colorado’s 6th Congressional District race might be the closest, as Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, will again face a competitor just two years after a heated battle with Morgan Carroll, who now chairs the Colorado Democratic Party.
Denver attorney Jason Crow, an Army veteran who was a paratrooper and Ranger and is now is a partner at Holland and Hart working on business compliance, declared his candidacy Monday.
Though Crow currently lives blocks outside of the district, he says he plans to move, and vowed Monday to paint a picture that Coffman has aligned with Donald Trump in an effort to win over voters in the district, which covers parts of Adams and Douglas counties, as well as Aurora.
But he won’t be the only Democrat running for the chance to face off against Coffman.
Gabriel McArthur, a 25-year-old who was a Colorado delegate for Bernie Sanders at last year’s Democratic National Convention but who ultimately supported Jill Stein, has also officially filed with the FEC.
Though an outsider, McArthur has said he supports a single-payer health care system, renewable energies and the repeal of Citizens United. He has yet to formally kick off his campaign, his website says.
Still, both face uphill battles to de-seat Coffman, who beat Carroll in 2016 by 31,000 votes – a few thousand fewer than he won by when he defeated Andrew Romanoff in 2014.
The district was the only in the state that saw a margin of victory between the candidates less than 10 percent.
Lamborn, Buck already face challenges in 4th, 5th districts as well
In Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, Rep. Doug Lamborn already faces a primary challenge from fellow Republican, state Sen. Owen Hill, a conservative from Colorado Springs who chairs the Senate Education Committee and is the vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Hill also sits on the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee.
Hill is a worthy opponent, having been elected twice to the state senate and having run for U.S. Senate before withdrawing his candidacy in favor of Cory Gardner, who eventually was elected to the seat.