State Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Thornton pediatrician, became the first Democrat on Tuesday to qualify for the party's primary in Colorado's newly created 8th Congressional District after election official determined she submitted more than enough signatures to make the ballot.
The announcement came just hours before Caraveo was set to compete with Adams County Commissioner Charles "Chaz" Tedesco for delegate votes at the Democrats' virtual district assembly, where the candidate who gets the most votes wins top line on the June 28 primary ballot.
Tedesco will have to clear 30% support from delegates to join Caraveo in the primary. He didn't submit nominating petitions by the March 15 deadline, so Tuesday night's assembly is his sole path to the ballot.
Because Caraveo has already qualified by petition, she needs just 10% at the assembly to advance, though there's a good chance she'll do considerably better, based on the results of nonbinding straw polls at precinct caucuses and county assemblies that showed her in the lead.
Colorado congressional candidates must submit at least 1,500 valid signatures from fellow party members to qualify for the primary ballot. Of the 2,686 signatures turned in by Caraveo's campaign, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office said in a statement that 1,936 were valid.
“I’m grateful to the thousands of people across CD-8 who signed our petitions in support of my candidacy," Caraveo told Colorado Politics in an email. "Each of their names is a testament to the energy of our campaign, and to the acute need for true representation for working families in Washington, D.C., next year."
The 8th CD was created ahead of this year's election by an independent congressional redistricting commission based on results of the 2020 census. It's the state's most closely divided district — its electorate swung from a narrow win for former President Donald Trump in 2016 to a double-digit win by President Joe Biden in 2020 — and is likely to be this year's most competitive congressional race in Colorado.
The district includes fast-growing parts of Adams, Larimer and Weld counties, stretching north of the Denver metro area to Greeley. Drawn to be a Hispanic-influence district, its population is 38.5% Hispanic, the largest share of any congressional district in the state.
If elected, Caraveo would be the first Latina sent to Congress from Colorado and the first medical doctor.
Four Republicans have already made the primary ballot for the district — Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, first-time candidate Tyler Allcorn and state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer — while a fifth, business owner Giulianna "Jewels" Gray, is awaiting word on petitions she submitted last month.