House Speaker Crisanta Duran on Monday endorsed fellow Denver Democrat Robert Rodriguez in the five-way primary for term-limited state Sen. Irene Aguilar's Senate District 32 seat.
"For over 10 years, I've known Robert as a tireless volunteer for progressive causes, always putting the needs of others above his own," Duran said in a statement. "Now more than ever, we need leaders who can unite us under the banner of a Democratic Party that stands for women, people of color, the young, and the working-class. For Senate District 32, Robert is that candidate."
Rodriguez is running against entrepreneur Zach Neumann and activists Peter Smith, Lance Wright and Hazel Gibson in a primary for the heavily Democratic seat. Aguilar, a physician and a key supporter of last year's universal health care ballot proposal, has also endorsed Rodriguez, a former vice chair of the Denver Democrats.
Calling Duran a trailblazer and champion for social justice, Rodriguez said he was humbled to have her support.
His campaign noted that Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, is also backing Rodriguez and pointed to the achievements of Duran, Aguilar and Guzman, who were the first Latinas to serve as speaker of the Colorado House, the Senate district's representative and Senate leader, respectively. "Latinos make up one-fifth of the state's population but only account for 9 percent of legislative seats," the Rodriguez campaign added.
Rodriguez works as director of business management at Independence House, a network of facilities that help criminal offenders re-enter society. (The business was founded four decades ago by the candidate's father, Colorado Democratic Party Deputy 2nd Vice Chair Mannie Rodriguez, a former Democratic national committeeman for Colorado.)
Denver city councilwoman Debbie Ortega and state Reps. Paul Rosenthal, Susan Lontine, and James Coleman, all Denver Democrats, have also endorsed Rodriguez.
Senate District 32 in south-central Denver consistently turns out some of the highest vote totals in the state for Democratic candidates. According to the most recent voter registration figures from the Colorado secretary of state, 45.3 percent of the active voters are Democrats, 35.6 percent are unaffiliated and just 17.1 percent are Republicans.
Aguilar won with 64.3 percent of the vote over Republican nominee Dawne Murray in 2014 and pulled in 70.1 percent of the vote in 2012 against Republican Roger Logan. Aguilar was appointed to the seat by a vacancy committee to fill Chris Romer's term in late 2010 after he stepped down to mount an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Denver.