Duran DNC

Crisanta Duran addresses the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.

Former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran on Friday dropped her Democratic primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, saying she believes she can "be more effective in pursuing transformational change through other means."

Her withdrawal comes just over two weeks after the Denver attorney underwent emergency surgery for what Duran described in a Facebook post as an imminent ruptured appendix her doctor told her was potentially life-threatening.

As she was recovering, Duran posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed and said that she was "taking time to recover and reflecting on much," adding that there was "More to come. ..."

"I’ve always known that purpose is more important than one’s title," Duran said in a Friday morning email to supporters announcing that she was ending her campaign. "Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to those who had the courage to support the campaign and demand bold and innovative leadership for the people of Congressional District 1," she added.

Duran announced she was running for the Denver-based congressional seat in February after months of speculation she would challenge U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Instead, she took aim at DeGette, who was first elected to represent the heavily Democratic district in 1996 and is seeking her 13th term.

”The time is now to bring change,” Duran said in a statement released late on the night of Feb. 24, just as the Academy Awards telecast was starting. “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.”

While Duran's fundraising lagged the incumbent's, Duran won early endorsements from former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former Denver Mayor and Clinton-era cabinet secretary Federico Peña, and former Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien.

DeGette, however, brandished endorsements from organizations including the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, the state's largest union and the past stomping grounds of Duran and some of her family members, who held positions with the union a decade ago.

In Friday's email, Duran said she plans to donate some of her leftover campaign funds to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and urged her supporters to contribute to the group.

DeGette has fended off primary challenges from political newcomers in the last two cycles, defeating Charles Norris in 2016 and Saira Rao last year. A Republican has yet to file for the seat for the 2020 election.

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