State Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Thornton Democrat, on Tuesday became the first candidate to announce a run in next year's election for Colorado's eighth U.S. House seat, touting her background as a pediatrician and daughter of immigrants, her Adams County roots and a record passing progressive legislation.
Colorado will gain an additional U.S. House seat in 2023 due to population growth reflected in last year's U.S. census. While the district's boundaries haven't been set, a preliminary map centers the district in the Adams County suburbs north of Denver, stretching up Interstate 25 into Weld County.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Caraveo, 40, grew up with three siblings near her current home and said she wants to be a voice in Congress for "families who work hard but are slipping through the cracks."
“My parents immigrated to Colorado from Mexico, and raised me and my siblings to work hard and to finish what we started," Caraveo said in a statement. "I’m running for Congress because I’m committed to the families I see every day as a pediatrician — families who work hard and are struggling to make ends meet.
"I will take on tough fights and work with anyone to make sure the economic recovery reaches every part of our community, that families have access to quality affordable health care, and that our right to vote is protected."
Caraveo was elected in 2018 to represent House District 31, covering parts of Thornton, Northglenn and unincorporated Adams County, with 55% of the vote and won a second term last year without opposition.
During her time in the House, Caraveo has led legislation to restructure how the state regulates oil and gas operations, to regulate the potency of recreational marijuana and to restrict the use of ketamine by law enforcement. Other bills she's sponsored include one to lower the cost of prescription drugs, one to expand funding for preschool and another to protect renters from eviction during the pandemic.
Caraveo attended public schools in Adams County, got her undergraduate degree from Regis University and her medical degree from the University of Colorado.
As a medical resident, her campaign said, she organized fellow residents as a representative with Service Employees International Union and was later named a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for her work organizing doctors in the fight against climate change.
Her campaign said Caraveo's experience as a working pediatrician — if elected, she would be the first physician sent to Congress from Colorado — will bring a rare perspective to health care reform.
She would also be the first Latina sent to Congress from Colorado, a state that has elected only five women to Congress in its history and two Latinos — brothers Ken Salazar and John Salazar, who were first elected in 2004 to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, respectively.
"She will fight to make sure the voices of Coloradans long ignored in Washington are heard, particularly those of Brown, Black and Indigenous communities," a Caraveo campaign spokeswoman said in a release.
Under its preliminary boundaries, the 8th CD leans Democratic by a healthy margin, with President Joe Biden having carried its precincts last year by 15 points, slightly better than the Democrat performed statewide. But the district lines — like those of the state's seven other congressional seats — could change substantially in coming weeks as the state's Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission considers public testimony and works to finalize a map.
Some Democrats who floated possible candidacies in the new district are throwing their support behind Caraveo.
State Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, told Colorado Politics she was thrilled to be supporting "a great woman of color."
“It will be a historic first having Yadira elected as a Latina in Congress," Winter said in a text message. "She is the leader we need. She is a pediatrician who believes in science and will lead our community well.”
Joe Salazar, a former candidate for attorney general and Caraveo's predecessor representing House District 31, has said he's considering a run for the seat but didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from Colorado Politics about his plans.
Republicans who have said they're considering running or been mentioned as possible candidates include state Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson; former state Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone; and former Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo, who also served in the state House.
Candidates for the U.S. House don't have to be residents of the district they run to represent.