Rep. Donald Valdez announces run for Boebert’s congressional seat

Democratic state lawmaker enters field that already includes several announced challengers

State Rep. Donald Valdez
Colorado Rep. Donald Valdez speaks on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives on June 11, 2020. (Andy Bosselman for Newsline)

State Rep. Donald Valdez, a farmer and rancher from La Jara, today joined the list of Colorado Democrats hoping to oust freshman U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.

In announcing his candidacy, Valdez said a top priority for him in Congress would be fighting to keep water in the San Luis Valley for agriculture. Boebert’s “conspiracy theories” and “dangerous antics” motivated him to run for her seat, he said.

“We need a representative who focuses on our lifeblood, and that is water,” Valdez told Colorado Newsline. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and dig in, so we have real representation and a stronger, more united Colorado.”

Valdez recently began his third term in the Colorado House representing the 62nd District, which covers portions of Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano, Mineral, Pueblo, Rio Grande and Saguache counties. He’s run for U.S. Congress once before — announcing his candidacy against former Rep. Scott Tipton in June 2019 before withdrawing from the race in November of that year after failing to raise much money.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District covers the western third of the state and Pueblo County.

Silt resident Boebert, 34, is the current freshman representative from the district. She defeated five-term Republican Tipton in last year’s primary and went on to beat her Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, in the Nov. 3 general election.

She has drawn national attention for her combative style and for her role in voting to object to electoral votes in Congress on Jan. 6, the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She is a gun rights advocate and insists on carrying her Glock on U.S. Capitol grounds. She’s also well-known for her restaurant, Shooters Grill, in Rifle, where servers carry handguns strapped to their waist.

From her earliest days in office she has inspired fierce opposition, including calls for her expulsion from Congress, and several Coloradans have already announced their intention to run against her in 2022. State Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat from Vail, is among the most prominent figures to have announced their candidacy for the 3rd District. Others who reportedly have formally launched or explored campaigns for the seat include Democrats Colin Wilhelm, state Rep. Dylan Roberts and Gregg Smith. Colorado Pols reported Tuesday that Republican Tim Foster, the recently-retired president of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, might be weighing a primary contest with Boebert.

“Yes, there’s three others already in the race, but it’s about standing up for democracy … and I’d be more than willing to work with anyone who’s willing to stand up for Colorado, for rural Colorado — stand up for the truth,” Valdez said. “I’m a proud Democrat and I respect those who are willing to take on this challenge, but we need someone who can beat Lauren Boebert on this turf.”

Valdez, a fifth-generation Coloradan who served on the executive council of the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Colorado chapter, argues his campaign is “absolutely” in a better position than in 2019.

When he announced he was dropping out of the race that year, Valdez said he needed to focus on protecting San Luis Valley water from Denver developers. Now, he’d rather fight for similar priorities at the U.S. Capitol.

“We need someone who stands up and understands water policy in Congress right now, and that’s why I’m running,” Valdez said.

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 10:32 a.m., Feb. 18, 2021, to include additional quotes from Donald Valdez.

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