Barbara O'Brien

Former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran picked up another key endorsement in her bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette in next year's Congressional District 1 Democratic primary.

Barbara O’Brien, vice president of the Denver Board of Education, was lieutenant governor under Gov. Bill Ritter from 2007 to 2011.

“As a leader in education, I have seen how the dysfunction in Congress prevents us from addressing the needs of students, teachers and families," O'Brien said in a statement Thursday.

"I am proud to support Crisanta because I believe she will remain focused on the needs of our communities and provide effective leadership."

O'Brien joins former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a Cabinet member under President Obama and an Colorado Democratic icon, in endorsing Duran.

> RELATED: Ken Salazar throws support behind DeGette primary challenger Crisanta Duran

In the endorsement announcement, Duran's campaign said that as House speaker she made education a priority.

"I am thrilled to have the endorsement of Barbara O'Brien who has spent her career advocating for children and understands what it takes to effectively lead, " Duran stated.

DeGette has held the Denver congressional seat since Pat Schroeder opted not to run for a 13th term in 1996.

Duran could prove to be her toughest opponent to date.

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