State Rep. Donald Valdez is ending his short-lived congressional campaign and will instead seek a third term representing southern Colorado's House District 62 in order to defend the San Luis Valley's water, the La Veta Democrat told Colorado Politics.
Valdez was one of four Democrats running to challenge five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the sprawling 3rd Congressional District, which covers most of the Western Slope, Pueblo County and the San Luis Valley.
"I need to keep voicing for rural Colorado, for our water, for our rural education, for our infrastructure, for our renewable energy — for our citizens in rural Colorado," Valdez said.
"The best way for me to do that right now isn’t in Washington — where everyone is obsessed with money, power and partisanship — but in the state House. The San Luis Valley is facing an existential threat to our water, and I can best fight against it in the state House.”
Valdez said a plan by developers to transport water from the Valley's aquifer to the Denver metro area prompted his decision to switch races.
"We need to defend the water in the San Luis Valley," he said. "There are some developers looking to take the water from the San Luis Valley. I will continue to be an advocate to keep our water in the Valley and voice for it every single day."
Valdez's decision was first reported by Alamosa's Valley Courier.
After joining the congressional primary at the beginning of the third quarter in early July, Valdez reported raising just under $25,000 for the period — far short of the more than $150,000 Tipton and the leading Democrat in the race, former state Rep. Diane Mitch Bush, each reported raising for the same quarter.
The other Democrats running in the 3rd CD are grassroots candidate Root Routledge of Durango and James Iacino, a seafood executive who moved from Denver to Montrose this month shortly before declaring his bid, after the end of the third quarter.
Valdez is facing a primary for the Democratic-leaning legislative seat.
Matthew Martinez, director of the Correspondence Education Program at Adams State University and a former member of the Monte Vista City Council, launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination for House District 62 in early October.
Valdez won the nomination to a second statehouse term last year amid a controversy over whether he really lived in his district, which includes Alamosa, Costilla, Huerfano, Saguache, Mineral, Rio Grande and Conejos counties, and parts of Pueblo County.