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December 27, 2021 04:19 AM MST

Top Ten Stories of 2021 #10: CD-8, Mother of All Battlegrounds

  • by: Colorado Pols

Last April, as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reported, Colorado was awarded as a result of population growth in the past decade an eighth seat in Congress–Western census winners along with Oregon, Montana, and Texas, while California, Illinois, and New York each gave up seats:

Colorado’s population jumped to 5,773,714, last year from 5,029,196 in 2010, a 14.8% increase. The nation’s population grew by 7.4% during that span to more than 330 million. America’s growth rate was its slowest since the 1930s.

Colorado is among six states that are gaining one or more congressional seats. Seven states will lose seats, including New York, which was 89 people away from keeping the seat.

The question of how and where to draw this new congressional seat was resolved by Colorado’s brand-new independent congressional redistricting commission. Of all the proposals for where to locate this new district, the historically underrepresented north Denver metro area was the early preference for Democrats. The new map approved by the Colorado Supreme Court is anchored by the northern Denver suburb of Thornton in the south and Greeley at the north end of the district. This district was drawn, much like CD-7 was originally in the 2000 redistricting cycle, to be tightly competitive based on past electoral performance. The extent to which this new district could defy easy prediction is best illustrated by this mindbending reality: voters in the new CD-8 supported both Michael Bennet and Donald Trump in 2016 by similarly narrow margins.

For the inaugural CD-8 race in 2022 both parties have energetic primaries shaping up, although the Republican field is attracting by far the most attention. Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine is the easy choice in this primary for the MAGA faithful as a Lauren Boebert-style firebreather years before Boebert made it cool. Meanwhile, the GOP’s corporate/consultant class is effectively split between Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer of Weld County and Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann. State Sen. Kevin Priola was once considered a possible contender for this seat as well, but strong opposition from fiscal conservatives appears to have iced him out.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo has a path to winning the nomination, with challenger Adams County commissioner Chaz Tedesco working his labor connections and winning his share of endorsements. The winner of the Democratic primary will have the crucial task of winning over the district’s large Latino population as well as blue-collar working families who are receptive to core Democratic economic arguments but also based on past results swingable. In the long term, much like the rest of Denver’s suburbs represented by CDs 6 and 7 have matured into Democratic strongholds, there’s every reason to believe that this district will become similarly less competitive over time.

Faced with that inevitability, it’s Republicans who have much more to lose in this inaugural contest.


5 thoughts on “Top Ten Stories of 2021 #10: CD-8, Mother of All Battlegrounds

  1. Caraveo would be who I’d advise my daughter’s family, who live in Thornton, to vote for. Unless one is a 19 year old with a yen to consume copious amounts of concentrated cannabis,  she’d be a good advocate for health of the people in that district. If the cannabis industry endorses her opponent instead, will it be a “kiss o’ death”? Don’t know. 
    I’d really want to see which candidate makes the best case for a plan to clean up the pollution in CD8. It’s home to methane and heavy metal and airborne  carcinogens, hundreds of dead O&G wellheads, and decades of waste in the water. It’s a textbook example of the need  for “environmental justice”. Derby and Thornton in CD8, for example,  have terrible air quality and poverty. 
    We already know the Republican candidates won’t focus on environmental issues, and will recite the “jobs jobs jobs” mantra to shore up O&G interests. 
    Hopefully, Democrats will do better at making the case for “jobs with justice”. 


    1. Expecting a freshman Representative to be able to do ANYTHING is a reach.  Democrat or Republican, "outsider" or "insider" to Congressional processes and personalities, ideologue or pragmatic dealmaker — chances that a newly elected Rep will exploit their 1/435th influence to make programs or priorities is a reach.

      Clean up is much more likely to come from county commissioners, state government, or federal executive branch regulation.

      1. “Makes the best case for a plan to clean up the pollution in CD8” is hardly proclaiming that the CD8 rep will be able to create environmental policy by themselves. You know perfectly well that I wasn’t implying that.

        However, that representative will have a megaphone, a bully pulpit, the opportunity to persuade like-minded colleagues, and a large contact list. Buck, Lamborn, and Boebert ( a freshman) have consistently used these resources to advocate against environmental regulation. They have consistently promoted the false narrative that only fossil fuels and unregulated industries create jobs.
        Colorado’s Democratic delegation, on the other hand, have used their public voices ( and votes) to argue for climate mitigation and renewable energy.
        Elections do matter.

    2. "If the cannabis industry endorses her opponent instead, will it be a “kiss o’ death”? Don’t know.

      Seems extraordinarily unlikely.  HB21-1317 greatly favors the corporate cannabis industry, so I can't imagine them having qualms with her. 

      Local cannabis businesses and medical cannabis providers, however, have voiced support for Chaz Tedesco. Granted, they see problems in Caraveo's bill already. 

      So, "Kiss of death" for the Democrat pushing reactionary social policy? The one receiving dark money from hospitals/insurers?  Doubtful.

  2. I haven't actually seen a demographic analysis of CD-08, but it was supposedly an effort to make sure that the growth in Colorado's hispanic population is represented. "Hispanic" can mean lots of things from Cuban to Salvadoran, but in Colorado it would mean primarily of Mexican descent, if not Chihuahua.

    But, I don't think this district is so easily categorized like that.

    The growth in CD-08 has been primarily suburban or ex-urban Denver commuters: new developments for families who are willing to drive until they can afford a modern, middle-class 4-bedroom home. I'm guessing a lot of second generation immigrants, perhaps first college generation or good working class jobs. I also assume the age skews to younger (30s/40s people with families.

    I don't really know, but I think that assumptions about voting patterns should not rely on ethnic allegiances or cultural/racial issues (i.e. "hispanic"); I think the common interests will be along economic lines and opportunities.

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