Colorado’s New Eighth Congressional District Doesn’t Have Its Final Shape Yet, But It Does Have A Candidate

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo on the House floor Thursday, March 4, 2021.

The lines haven’t been officially set yet for Colorado’s eighth congressional district, but it already had its first significant candidate.

Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo announced her intention to run in the proposed new district just north of Denver.

Caraveo is from Thornton and represents Adams County, which is included in the new District 8 in the first draft map released by the state’s redistricting commission. Non-partisan staff will release an updated proposal Labor Day weekend using final census data and incorporating feedback from the public and commissioners.

“The maps right now are looking like they're really centered around Adams County and I think that's really a reflection of the fact that Adams has grown really quickly in the last 10 years and has had a significant increase in population,” Caraveo said. “In particular in the Latino population.”

Caraveo is a pediatrician and the only physician currently serving in the state legislature. She said, if elected, she would continue to focus on the same issues she championed as a state representative — affordable health care, housing, and voting and reproductive rights. Her parents immigrated to the U.S from Mexico, and she said she would like the opportunity to represent an ethnically diverse district. 

As drawn in the preliminary map, CO-8 would be nearly 30 percent Hispanic, 1.7 percent Black and 3.8 percent Asian.

“The next congressperson from Colorado should really reflect the changing face of Colorado. We've never had a Latina go to Congress from Colorado. And so I think that that will be an important voice.”

But without an incumbent in a new congressional seat, it’s likely Caraveo is only the first of many candidates to enter the race. As it stands, Democrats appear to have a seven-point advantage over Republicans in the district, which could make that primary particularly active.

A Democratic political strategist told CPR News that several other Democratic state lawmakers are considering a run in the new seat, but none have announced yet. Some are waiting to see what the lines will look like in a final map.

One risk is that if the map shifts much on its western border, it could actually encompass Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s house. Colorado doesn’t require members of Congress to live in the district they represent. But if the nine-term Representative did decide to run in the new district, he would likely clear the field of other Democrats.

Democratic state Sen. Faith Winter’s name has been mentioned as a possible contender in CO-8, but she said she is endorsing Caraveo.

“She is the leader we need,” Winter wrote in a text message. “She is a pediatrician who believes in science and will lead our community well.”

On the Republican side there’s long been speculation about state Sen. Kevin Priola running for the seat.

He recently survived a tough election cycle in which he was a top target for Democrats. Priola is the legislature’s most moderate Republican, and handily won re-election in an increasingly blue district, out-performing Republicans at the top of the ticket.