The former CEO of the Seattle Fish Co. announced Thursday he's seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado's sprawling 3rd Congressional District.
"As I travel around the Western Slope and talk to my employees and customers, you realize there are a number of issues that are important to them, like economic mobility and preserving our public lands, and they don't feel well represented in Congress," said James Iacino, who stepped down this week as CEO of the 101-year-old Denver-based wholesale seafood supplier founded by his grandfather, in an interview with Colorado Politics.
The 36-year-old political newcomer said in a statement that he decided to run for Congress "because I want to make sure that people across the district can achieve the American Dream, just like my grandfather did when he came to Colorado 117 years ago. Hard work, dedication, and the will to innovate helped my family’s business grow to where it is today, and I want to make sure that Coloradans can do the same, and their values are truly represented in Washington.”
With more than 200 employees and offices in Denver and Montrose — where Iacino recently relocated with his family — the Seattle Fish Co. has been a leader in sustainability and renewable energy practices, Iacino said.
He's the fourth Democrat to launch a campaign for the seat, which covers the Western Slope and parts of Southern Colorado, joining former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, who ran unsuccessfully against Tipton last year, state Rep. Don Valdez and Root Routledge in the primary.
Tipton, first elected in 2010 in a Republican wave year, has been targeted by national Democrats but has easily won re-election four times.
Describing himself as a moderate Democrat, Iacino said he plans to stress his business background and "real world experience growing jobs" in his campaign.
"What I have to do is tune out a lot of the noise going on and realize we have a lot of lawmakers in D.C. who aren't looking out for the folks they've been elected to represent," he said.
He took aim at Tipton.
"This district has been underrepresented," Iacino said. "Going around the district, people are talking about access to health care, they're talking about health care costs, and nothing has been done by our current representation in Washington, and Scott Tipton in particular, to address any of that. He's been there for 10 years, and he's not doing the job for us."
A spokesman for Tipton's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Iacino, who has assumed the role of executive chairman of the family-owned company said that he's also hoping that people will want to eat more fish. His favorite, he added, is the Hawaiian Kampachi, a sashimi-grade ocean-raised fish with a high oil content that stands up particularly well to preparation in sushi.