No rematch in CO-08 — state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer will not challenge Rep. Yadira Caraveo next year

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer at the Capitol, March 1, 2023.

Updated: 3:35 p.m., July 12, 2023

Republican State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer has closed the door to a possible rematch against Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo to represent Colorado’s eighth Congressional District.

Kirkmeyer announced today she will not run for congress in 2024. Instead the Weld County state lawmaker, who sits on the legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee, said she will seek a second term in the Colorado senate. 

“My passion has always been for Colorado. In 2024, I believe the best way for me to serve our great state is to run for reelection to the State Senate,” she said in a press release. Kirkmeyer added that despite encouragement from supporters to run for Congress again, she made the decision after “careful consideration and deliberation.”

CO-08 is Colorado’s newest, and most competitive, congressional seat, with Democrats only holding a one point advantage. In 2022,  Caraveo won by just over 1,600 votes, or .69 points. A Libertarian candidate in the race snagged over 9,000 votes, and was considered by many Republicans, including Kirkmeyer, to be a spoiler who contributed to the Democratic victory.

The seat is expected to be a prime target for both parties in 2024 and a potential pickup opportunity for Republicans as they seek to increase their majority in the U.S House. 

Kirkmeyer’s decision clears the way for other GOP hopefuls to hop into the race. On Wednesday afternoon, Weld County Commissioner Scott James became the first to announce his candidacy. A number of other current and former elected officials are also reported to be considering a run.

Any delay in gaining an opponent gives Caraveo time to build her campaign war chest, in what is expected to be another costly race.

Kirkmeyer spent just over $1.5 million in the last campaign. Caraveo spent more than twice that, at just over $3.5 million, and currently has just under $300,000 cash on hand for her reelection.

The Republican House campaign arm, as well as the conservative aligned Americans for Prosperity, have already run ads against Caraveo, attacking her record so far in Congress.

Kirkmeyer’s decision not to run in CO-08 also leaves open the question of whether the Libertarian Party will field a candidate in the contest next year. 

The party has agreed not to enter races where they deem the Republican candidate to be sufficiently ‘pro-liberty.’ However, the head of the Colorado Libertarian Party said earlier that they would put forward a candidate in CO-08 if Kirkmeyer ended up as the GOP nominee. 

‘I love a good fight’

The statehouse has been dominated by Democrats for the last few years, but Kirkmeyer said that’s not discouraging to her, pointing to the 49 bills she passed during the last legislative session. 

“Many people ask me, ‘why would you want to stay in a legislature dominated by liberal Democrats?’” she said. “My answer? Politics should be about improving people’s lives, ensuring opportunities for all Coloradans, and I love a good fight.”

Kirkmeyer’s announcement comes only a day after she publically butted heads with the controversial and combative leader of the Colorado Republican party, Dave Williams. 

The two got into a back and forth on Twitter after she retweeted a letter from the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans that criticized Williams for his homophobic and transphobic comments on Pride month.

“Here’s to finding a more constructive path to reach our goals!” Tweeted Kirkmeyer..

In response, the Colorado Republican party then criticized Kirkmeyer for being among the handful of Senate Republicans that voted for the state budget earlier this year. 

“When you figure out what’s actually “constructive” please let the world know. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t involve voting to pass the largest budget in Colorado history so radical Democrats can force their extreme policies against the very people you claim to care about.”

Kirkmeyer also drew the ire of some conservatives and minor parties when she ran a bill last session that would have eliminated the state’s caucus system in favor of requiring all primary candidates to petition on to the ballot. It also would have allowed unaffiliated voters to sign candidate’s petitions. The bill failed in committee.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with news of Scott James' candidacy.