Former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran said Sunday she will run in 2020 for U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette's seat in Congress.
Duran, 38, had been widely expected to try to ride her rising political star to Washington. But the betting money was on the possibility that she would run next year against incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.
Instead, with Democrats lining up to challenge Gardner, Duran announced that instead she'll run for the U.S. House in Denver's 1st Congressional District in the Democratic primary.
Fellow Democrat DeGette has held the seat since 1997. A chief deputy whip, DeGette breezed to victory in her party primary last year.
”The time is now to bring change,” Duran said in a Sunday night statement. “These challenging times demand political courage from our elected leaders. That is what I have done throughout my entire career, and I want to continue to bring people together to make change in Washington.”
Her announcement said voters are "eager and hungry for a new chapter in Colorado politics and U.S. history." It did not mention DeGette.
Two years ago, Duran became the first Latina speaker of the House in the nation. Representing a northwest Denver district, she was prevented by term limits from running again for the state House last year.
Duran spoke of her heritage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and she has been heralded by several Democratic and women's groups as a rising political star.
A DeGette campaign spokeswoman on Sunday night shrugged off news of a primary challenger — but her campaign also sent out a fundraising email within hours of Duran's announcement.
"Whether it’s fighting to make health care more affordable or protecting a women’s right to choose, Rep. DeGette spends every day working hard for the people she represents," Lisa B. Cohen, DeGette's long-time chief of staff, told Colorado Politics in an emailed statement.
"In fact, as the chair of a powerful House oversight committee, she’s leading two important Congressional hearings this week - one on the ongoing outbreak of measles here in the U.S and another on the EPA’s lax enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws. So, right now, she’s focused on doing her job — and will let the politics take care of itself."
In an email from the DeGette campaign to supporters, the 12-term congresswoman sounded the alarm and gave a preview of the case she'll make for re-election:
"I already have a primary challenge in my 2020 race," DeGette wrote. "I know that 2020 may seem far off — and that you worked your hearts out to take the House back for Democrats in 2018. But my race to continue serving you starts today. ...
"Rest assured, I will remain laser-focused on my #1 priority: using my leadership position to hold the Trump administration accountable and fighting for all of you."