Democrat Yadira Caraveo wins competitive District 8 race to represent Colorado’s newest congressional district

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Democratic state Rep. Dr. Yadira Caraveo is running for Congress in the new 8th District against Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer.

Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo has won the state’s most closely contested and closely watched congressional race this year to become the first representative from Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District. 

Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer conceded the race Wednesday night.

“Our community showed up and our voices were heard," Caraveo said in a statement after winning the race.

CO-8 stretches from the northern Denver suburbs into Weld county and Greeley. Not only was it the most competitive congressional race in Colorado — essentially a toss-up based on recent election results — it’s also the district with the most Latino residents, making up nearly 40 percent of the population. 

“In many ways, the story of my family is the story of this district," Caraveo said in the statement. "My parents immigrated here to afford us a better life. And because of their hard work, I was able to go to college, become a doctor, and live my version of the American Dream. But for too many people in Colorado, that dream has slipped out of reach. Our District deserves a leader who will fight to restore access to the American Dream for working families."

Caraveo is the first Latina to represent Colorado in Congress.

“The possibility of having the first Latina congresswoman from Colorado serve in Congress I think is something that is really motivating people. Also, the fact that this is such a bellwether, I think not just for the state, but for so many of the competitive races across the country, is something that is bringing volunteers from all over Colorado, not just the eighth district,” said Caraveo.  

She is a pediatrician and daughter of Mexican immigrants, and ran on cost of living issues, as well as her support for legal abortion, something Kirkmeyer opposes. Caraveo was one of the sponsors of the reproductive health equity act which codified the right to an abortion into state law.

“I think the biggest piece is recognizing how important it is to have that relationship between a doctor and a patient that is not interfered with by anyone else,” said Caraveo. “Not insurance companies, not drug companies, and certainly not the government.”

“Dr. Yadira Caraveo’s historic election means for the first time ever, working families in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District have a champion in Congress. Dr. Caraveo, the daughter of immigrants, is going to Congress to ensure every family in Colorado’s 8th has the opportunity to pursue the American Dream," DCCC Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney said in a statement after Caraveo's victory was announced Wednesday.

During her four years at the state House, Caraveo has been the legislature’s only physician. She’s used her medical background to push bills on health care issues and has not shied away from sponsoring contentious legislation.

Last year Caraveo sponsored a bill that became law aimed at preventing teens from getting access to highly potent cannabis products. It tightens the rules for a doctor to recommend someone for a medical marijuana card, restricts the amount of high-THC products medical card holders can buy per day and increases purchase tracking, among other things.

She also cosponsored a bill, inspired by the death of Elijah McClain, to limit how the powerful sedative ketamine is used in law enforcement settings.

And in the wake of the COVID pandemic, Caraveo worked on legislation to address health care worker burnout and a diminished workforce, to try to set up a reserve corps and help with student loan relief if people serve in a disaster emergency.