Polly Baca, a Colorado Democrat who has been breaking political ground for decades, on Tuesday endorsed state Rep. Don Valdez, the La Jara state representative running in a crowded primary to take on U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Silt Republican, in the 3rd Congressional District.
Valdez, Baca said in a statement, "has proven himself to be an effective community leader and a pragmatic legislator who has a track record of delivering for his constituents. I cannot think of a better voice for rural Colorado in D.C.”
Baca, whose family has been winning elections in Colorado since territorial days, was the first Hispanic woman elected to notch a number of achievements, including election to the Colorado state Senate, co-chairing a Democratic National Convention and winning a major party's nomination to Congress.
She told Colorado Politics that Valdez, a fifth-generation Colorado farmer and rancher, "represents the people of the 3rd District far better than any of the other candidates I've seen."
She added that he resembles the last Democrat to represent the sprawling district, rancher John Salazar, who held the seat for three terms until 2010.
Saying he was "humbled and honored" to receive Baca's support, Valdez said she's been "an inspiration and a mentor for me throughout my political career."
Added Valdez: "I’m thrilled to have her on the team as we work to flip CO-03 blue in 2022.”
Valdez is one of at least six Democrats vying for the nomination to challenge Boebert, a Second Amendment advocate and restaurant owner whose brash and uncompromising approach has won her legions of followers on the right.
Others running are state Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail; Pueblo activist Sol Sandoval, a former social worker; Glenwood Springs attorney and former legislative candidate Colin Wilhelm; Walden veterinarian Debby Burnett; and Durango activist Root Routledge, who ran last year but quit the race before the primary.
Donovan has jumped out in front in fundraising, posting nearly $644,000 in the first quarter, lagging the $846,000 Boebert raised. Valdez reported $67,000 in contributions and had $44,000 on hand.
The Republican-leaning district covers most of the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo County. Boebert won the seat by nearly 6 percentage points last year after unseating five-term U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the GOP primary.
The district's 2022 boundaries won't be firm until sometime this fall, after Colorado's Independent Redistricting Commission finishes redrawing lines, but it's likely it will include most if not all of the Western Slope. A map proposed by rural advocacy groups also groups Conejos County, where Valdez lives, in the new 3rd CD.