Erik Aadland Foothills GOP

In this file photo, Colorado GOP U.S. Senate candidate Erik Aadland visits with Republicans after speaking at a party luncheon on June 10, 2021, in Lakewood.

Republican Erik Aadland plans to kick off his 2022 campaign for Colorado's U.S. Senate seat on Saturday at a rally in Lakewood headlined by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.

A decorated Army combat veteran who joined the GOP this spring, Aadland is one of four Republicans running for the nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who is seeking a third term in next year's election. It's his first run for office.

Aadland told Colorado Politics that he's formally launching his campaign on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks because of the date's importance.

As a senior at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Aadland recalled, he was just 70 miles from the World Trade Center when the planes hit and "irrevocably changed the course of my life."

Said Aadland: "That day, I knew that I would be called to fulfill my oath to support and defend the Constitution and our country. Twenty years later, with two combat tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan in between, I am now once again called to honor my oath. Kicking of my campaign on 9/11 is not a celebration, but a solemn response to a call of duty to serve our nation in this time of great crisis."

Tancredo, who served five terms in the U.S. House and has run for governor three times, is slated to introduce Aadland.

The event is set to take place at Chester Portsmouth Park at West 27th Avenue and Youngfield Street in Lakewood, behind the building that housed the Trump campaign's Jefferson County headquarters in 2016.

The other Republicans campaigning for the seat are Olympian and former Republican Party official Eli Bremer, former congressional candidate Peter Yu and Army veteran and first-time candidate Juli Henry.

Through the most recent campaign finance deadline on June 30, Aadland has been the only one of Bennet's potential challengers to report fundraising activity, with about $27,000 in contributions — including nearly $15,000 in contributions and loans from the candidate — and about $15,000 in the bank. Bennet has raised about $4.5 million and had $2.3 million on hand at the end of the period.

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