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In this file photo, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, a pediatrician, speaks at a Capitol press conference on April 24, 2019, in support of a proposed a ballot question to raise taxes on tobacco and vaping products. On Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, Caraveo announced she is running for Colorado's new, eighth congressional district.

A Democratic group devoted to electing more scientists and doctors is backing state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician, in the race to represent Colorado's new congressional district.

314 Action Fund — named for the first three digits of pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter — formally endorsed the Thornton Democrat on Wednesday, saying Caraveo has made pro-science policy a hallmark of her work in the General Assembly.

“As vice chair of the Colorado House Health & Insurance Committee, Rep. Yadira Caraveo has put her STEM training and background as a pediatrician to work for the people of Colorado,” Shaughnessy Naughton, president of 314 Action, said in a statement to Colorado Politics. “From fighting for policies that ensure Coloradans have access to high-quality, affordable health care and paid family leave to passing legislation to make voting more accessible, Yadira has proven that she’s ready to lead the fight for evidence-based policies in the U.S. House.”

The group plans to spend tens of millions of dollars for electioneering activities nationwide, which could benefit Caraveo. 

If elected, Caraveo would be only the sixth woman sent to Congress by Colorado voters and the first Latina. She would also be the state delegation's first physician.

"As a pediatrician, I’ve always tried to bring reason and science to the legislative process in the statehouse when it comes to issues like battling COVID," Caraveo said in a news release. "We need more of that in Congress, especially with so many anti-science, anti-vaccine, and anti-mask extremists in Colorado and in Washington."

Caraveo is facing Adams County Commissioner Charles "Chaz" Tedesco, a former union president, in a primary for the new 8th Congressional District, which covers suburban Adams County and parts of Weld County, including Greeley.

Tedesco dismissed Wednesday's endorsement in a statement to Colorado Politics.

“Professionals’ voices have been heard loud and clear in Congress for some time now and what have they gotten the working families of Colorado?” Tedesco said.

“High gas prices, high healthcare costs, underfunded education, unequal opportunity and working families forced to live on low, unlivable wages. It is time workers like me represented working families."

Three Republicans have so far launched campaigns for the seat, which is considered a toss-up. Earlier this month, Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, a former state lawmaker, joined wedding photographer and first-time candidate Giulianna "Jewels" Gray and Ryan Gonzalez, who briefly sought the GOP nomination last year in the 6th Congressional District.

Three state senators are among Republicans also considering joining the race — Barbara Kirkmeyer, John Cooke and Kevin Priola.

The new district is considered a battleground, with 44% of its voters registered as unaffiliated, while Democrats hold a 3-point edge over Republicans.

Democratic candidates held a slim 1.3-point advantage over Republicans in eight recent elections used as a benchmark for competitiveness by the independent redistricting commission that drew the state's new lines after the 2020 census. President Joe Biden carried the district by about 4 points.

The organization that endorsed Caraveo, which counts 6 million members nationwide, is spending $10 million on a national advocacy campaign aimed at engaging voters on issues involving science, including climate change, health care and the response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as "holding anti-science public figures accountable," according to a spokesman.

314 Action Fund plans to spend $50 million to elect scientists at all levels of government this cycle and is targeting seven U.S. Senate races, 40 U.S. House races and 21 state-level races, the spokesman added. 

314 Action Fund was among the groups that urged U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, a geologist by training, to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in last year's election. The group commissioned polling and launched a campaign to draft the former governor into the Senate race, which the Democrat won by 9.5 points.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a comment from Adams County Commissioner Charles "Chaz" Tedesco, another Democrat running to represent Colorado's 8th Congressional District.

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