Denver Democrat Gabriel Thorn, a retired Army major with two Bronze Stars, is jumping in the crowded primary for the House district represented by Speaker Crisanta Duran, who faces term limits after next year’s election.

After serving 11 years in the Army, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Thorn is pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Denver’s Joseph A. Korbel School of International Studies.

Thorn said the rights of immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community and securing affordable housing will be among the key issues in his campaign.

“Having served with Dreamers, I’m reminded of the bravery and outstanding virtue of these people,” he said in a statement supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which the Trump administration is winding down over the next six months.

“The consequences will go far beyond monetary cost to the United States,” Thorn said. “It will cost our country dedicated young people who are invested in making our nation a better, safer, and more perfect union.”

Thorn said he’s a strong backer of LGBTQ rights and believes Denver should lead the region as an inclusive city.

“Some of the bravest people I’ve served in my military career were gay or trans,” he said. “My best friend is trans. My brother is gay and when he’s not subjecting me to his terrible playlist is one of my favorite people. I will always fight for the rights of LGBTQ people wherever I have the power to do so.”

Noting that a typical food-service worker without a family has to put in more than 60 hours to afford to live in Denver, Thorn said the city’s rapid growth should spur bipartisan solutions to housing affordability.

Four candidates — all Democrats — have so far launched campaigns for the heavily Democratic House District 5 seat, which covers downtown Denver and LoDo and stretches north to Elyria-Swansea and south to Athmar Park. The others in the running are Alex Valdez, Meghan Nutting and Nicky Yollick.

Duran prevailed in the last three elections over Republican nominee Ronnie Nelson, each time with around 75 percent of the vote.

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