4th Congressional District: Republican Jerry Sonnenberg

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg at the 2024 Republican 4th Congressional District Assembly. April 5, 2024, at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.

Sonnenberg has deep roots in northeastern Colorado, where his family’s farm and ranch received a “Centennial” designation, as well as in local politics. He’s currently serving as a Logan County Commissioner, after spending 16 years in the state legislature. The Sterling native was elected to the state House in 2006 and then the Senate in 2014. 

During his tenure in the Senate, Sonnenberg was part of Republican leadership, getting elected to the post of President Pro Tempore in 2016, and also chaired the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee during the last session Republicans were in control of the chamber. He also had almost 40 bills signed into law during his time in the chamber.

Sonnenberg spoke with CPR News about his positions on issues voters in the district said are most important.

On democracy and good governance

Sonnenberg would not give the current Congress a good grade, joking he’d rate them “lower than attorneys.”

“It’s so divided and so partisan that governing doesn't seem to be a priority anymore,” he said. Sonnenberg said he’d try and fix that by doing what he did in the state legislature: build relationships and work across the aisle to solve problems, while still holding to his conservative principles. “There are some solutions that have to have both sides to compromise to be able to find a good solution that benefits the people that you’re representing.”

Like many voters, he’s fearful about the direction of the country, from inflation to the high level of border crossings. “Unless we solve those problems… we should be scared about what happens in our country.

To solve problems for the district, “you can’t just be a ‘No, No, No person,” Sonnenberg added. “There’s a lot of people in Congress that want to solve problems and not just throw grenades and look for a TV camera.”

On the economy and cost of living

When it comes to the economy and dealing with the cost of living, Sonnenberg wants to rein in government spending, as well as cut the overall size of the federal government and freeze federal hiring. 

“When government starts increasing their spending and increasing the debt, that makes it more challenging. The interest rates go up,” he said, making it harder for people to buy homes or manage their credit cards, which also carry higher interest rates.

If elected, he’d also work to ensure that the U.S. exports more goods worldwide. Sonnenberg pointed out that 80 percent of the wheat produced in Colorado is exported. He doesn't want U.S. trade barriers to go up, but rather to see those avenues remain open and have government get out of the way of the ability to trade worldwide.

On immigration

Sonnenberg said before addressing any changes to immigration policy, the country must first secure the border. 

“We have to make sure that we follow our current laws,” he said. “We have a legal system, but we have abandoned that legal system and opened the borders.”

He wants people applying for asylum to have to do it from a third country.

Sonnenberg does believe there should be a distinction between how the country handles people arriving now and those “that have been in the United States, that have actually been working here for decades” and paying taxes. He’d also support a pathway to citizenship for so-called DREAMERs, although he’s not sure what that process should be. 

“It’s impossible for the United States to deport every illegal immigrant, so we have to figure out who’s here, who’s being productive (and) who’s breaking the law or is a criminal that we need to deport.”