Angela Williams

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Angela Williams, a state senator, visits with fellow candidate Trish Zornio after a forum sponsored by the Denver Democrats on Oct. 5, 2019, in Denver.

Colorado state Sen. Angela Williams, a Denver Democrat, ended her campaign for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, saying she will seek re-election to her legislative seat instead. 

She's the fifth high-profile candidate to withdraw from Colorado's 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate primary since former Gov. John Hickenlooper joined the crowded field in August after ending his presidential bid.

"After a period of soul searching and reflection with family, I have decided to suspend my campaign for the U.S. Senate," Williams wrote in an email to supporters. "The past few months on this campaign have been a journey that I will never forget. I have traveled across our great state and it is clear, Colorado is ready to replace Cory Gardner."

Williams joined the primary in July for the seat held by Gardner, considered among the most vulnerable Republican senators up for election next year, but struggled to raise money for what could be the most expensive statewide race in Colorado history. 

Although she was the only currently elected official in the primary field, Williams raised just $108,000 during the first three months she was in the race and ended the 3rd quarter with $48,000 on hand, according to campaign finance reports.

Elected to a four-year state Senate term in 2016 after serving three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives, Williams is jumping from one Senate primary to another.

She's facing a challenge from state Rep. James Coleman, D-Denver, in her bid for a second term representing the heavily Democratic Senate District 33 in northeast Denver.

Coleman, who launched his campaign for the upper chamber on Nov. 12, has already amassed endorsements from some of the leading Democrats in the Legislature, including House Speaker KC Becker and state Sens. Jeff Bridges, Jessie Danielson, and Kerry Donovan.

"I plan on continuing to fight for my constituents and for all Coloradans at the State Capitol," Williams said in a release. "I will match my record, with nearly a decade of service fighting for my community, workers, women, the environment and small businesses, against anyone. I look forward to a spirited campaign and to continuing to serve as state senator for the next four years."

The chair of the Senate Business Labor & Technology Committee, Williams has developed a reputation as a business-friendly Democrat, but cast herself as a progressive champion in the U.S. Senate primary.

In a statement, Williams said that "elements of the Democratic Party" were "seeking to promote male candidates at the expense of talented and smart progressive women."

The charge echoes a complaint lodged with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee by Williams and five other women running the primary after the national organization recruited Hickenlooper into he race and endorsed the popular former two-term governor.

"Fighting to give women, people of color, and the underserved a voice isn’t always easy, especially when faced with strong headwinds from Washington D.C.," Williams said.

She said Wednesday in her email to supporters that she expects Colorado to elect a progressive senator.

"As you know, Colorado has never sent a woman or a person of color to the U.S. Senate. I remain firm in my belief that that needs to change. Regardless of who wins the nomination, we must have someone who will fight and be a progressive voice for women, people of color and the underserved," Williams wrote. (Coloradans elected a Native American senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, in 1992, and a Hispanic senator, Ken Salazar, in 2004, but has never elected an African-American senator.)

Williams' withdrawal from the U.S. Senate primary leaves seven Democrats running for the nomination. Her move follows the exits of former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh, former Obama-era ambassador Dan Baer and former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden, who dropped out after Hickenlooper jumped in.

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