Election 2018Hot Sheet

ENDORSEMENT WATCH: Teachers union backs Neguse in 2nd CD Dem primary

Author: Ernest Luning - May 17, 2018 - Updated: May 23, 2018

Democratic congressional candidate Joe Neguse talks politics at the Jefferson County Democratic Party's annual fundraising dinner on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lakewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Democratic congressional candidate Joe Neguse talks politics at county party dinner in this 2017 file photo. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

There isn’t much time left for politicians and organizations to announce their endorsements in Colorado’s primary races. Ballots will be arriving in mailboxes within a few weeks and voters will be soon be voting, so expect a flood of announcements by early June from the big enchiladas who want to help their favored candidates win.

Colorado’s largest teacher’s union threw its support this week behind Joe Neguse, a former University of Colorado regent and one of two Democrats running in the 2nd Congressional District.

Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, said the 35,000-member union is backing Neguse because he shares its priorities and will fight for better funding for education — sentiments Neguse echoed in his own statement accepting the endorsement.

“Joe knows that having access to a quality public education is the key to upward mobility in this country. He will fight for increased school funding, better pay for our educators, and to ensure that every student has access to great opportunities,” Dallman said in a statement.

The son of Eritrean immigrants, Neguse credited schools staffed by CEA members with helping shape him.

“As a proud product of Colorado public schools, I am proud to have the backing of our educators,” he said in a statement. “Well-funded, quality public education in this country should be a top priority. I will fight in Congress to fund our schools, pay our teachers the professional salaries they deserve, and to ensure that every child, regardless of their background or where they live, has access to a quality neighborhood school.”

Neguse, 33, is facing former Boulder County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Williams in a primary for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, who is stepping down from Congress after five terms to run for governor.

Also this week, former Gov. Bill Ritter gave his stamp of approval to two fellow Democrats running in primaries of their own.

Ritter endorsed Phil Weiser, a former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, in the primary for attorney general.

“Phil Weiser is an important leader in Colorado and will be a great attorney general. I have worked with Phil since 2005 and can attest to his legal mind, his leadership abilities, and his commitment to building a 21st century economy here in Colorado,” said Ritter, the director of Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy, in a statement.

Weiser, who co-chaired Ritter’s Innovation Council after working on his 2006 campaign for governor, is running against state Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat, in a primary for the office held by retiring Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Ritter also endorsed former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush in the primary she’s running in the 3rd Congressional District.

In a statement, Ritter called the former Routt County Commissioner “the pioneering, forward-thinking, environmental steward we need to protect our home, Colorado’s way of living, and our economic foundation.”

Mitsch Bush is one of three Democrats vying to take on U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a four-term Republican. The others running are attorney Karl Hanlon and former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, the Green Party nominee for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat two years ago.

Here are some of the other Colorado candidate endorsements announced in recent days:

• U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a six-term Republican facing a crowded primary in the 5th Congressional District, won a pair of endorsements from national organizations this week.

National Right to Life, a group devoted to ending abortion, said it’s supporting Lamborn because he’s maintained a “perfect 100 percent pro-life voting record throughout his years of service in Congress.”

The National Federation of Independent Business, which bills itself as the voice of small business and represents hundreds of thousands of business owners nationwide, also endorsed Lamborn, calling his re-election critical to the small businesses in his district.

Lamborn is facing four primary challengers in the heavily Republican district: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, state Sen. Owen Hill, former Texas state judge Bill Rhea and former Green Mountain Falls Mayor Tyler Stevens.

• Democrat Saira Rao, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette in a primary in the 1st Congressional District, won an endorsement from Rudy Gonzales, executive director of Servicios de la Raza and a longtime community leader in Denver.

“Saira Rao speaks from the heart,” Gonzales said in a statement.

“Her issues are our issues: classism, income inequality, police brutality, gun violence, poor education achievement, poor healthcare, negative environment living conditions, severe inequity, systemic oppression and racism. Her grasp of these and many other issues as a woman of color, a 1st generation immigrant and a strong progressive, calls me to her side in support.

• House District 9 candidate Emily Sirota announced she’s won endorsements from three fellow Democrats, including a former representative of the southeast Denver district Sirota hopes to represent, Alice Borodkin. State Sen. Nancy Todd and former state Rep. Karen Middleton, both of Aurora, also threw their support behind Sirota. Middleton is executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, an organization that promotes abortion rights.

Sirota is running against Ashley Wheeland in a primary for the seat held by state Rep. Paul Rosenthal, who was denied a bid for a fourth term at the Democrats’ district assembly.

• The Colorado Working Families Party unveiled a slew of endorsements for Democrats ahead of the June 26 primary, although not all of the candidates it’s backing are facing primaries.

The organization — a coalition of progressive voters, community organizations and local labor unions — says it’s seeking to “amplify a more progressive voice among Democrats in the legislature and move policies that benefit working families.

The organization is endorsing the following state Senate candidates: state Rep. Faith Winter in Senate District 24; Julia Varnell-Sarjeant in Senate District 30; and Robert Rodriguez in Senate District 32.

It’s endorsing the following state House candidates: Serena Gonzales-Guiterrez  in House District 4; Meghan Nutting in House District 5; Emily Sirota in House District 9; Monica Duran in District 24; Dr. Yadira Caraveo in House District 31; Kyle Mullica in House District 34; and Chris Kolker in House District 38.

“At the close of a legislative session with so much of the people’s business undone and so many wasted opportunities, we’re endorsing these leaders to ensure that our state government is working in the interest of the rest of us, not just the wealthy and well connected,” said Carlos Valverde, state director of the Colorado Working Families Party, in a statement.

Won an endorsement or handed one out? Let us know at news@coloradopolitics.com.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.