There are big differences voters will have to consider between the candidates vying for Colorado’s new 8th congressional district seat, Barb Kirkmeyer, R-Fort Lupton, said during a campaign stop in Fort Morgan. .
State Rep. Dr. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, will oppose Kirkmeyer for the 8th District seat in the general election. The seat currently tilts Republican, according to Real Clear Politics, a national poll average.
“A lot of people think this neighborhood is a suburb of Denver,” Kirkmeyer said. “It’s not. It’s largely rural and agricultural in nature.
The district ranks first in power generation and agriculture in Colorado, she added.
The 8th District seat could be an important race for two reasons. Democrats hold a margin of nine seats in the U.S. House heading into the Nov. 8 election, a margin that Real Clear Politics predicts will be lost in November. The seat is also important from the point of view of the balance of the state in the House. Democrats currently hold four of Colorado’s seven seats.
“That’s our No. 1 goal in Colorado,” Colorado Republican Party Chairwoman Kristi Burton-Brown said. “We have a strong candidate who has a proven track record of understanding the people of the district.”
Burton-Brown and Colorado Republican Party Executive Director Joe Jackson joined Kirkmeyer during the campaign shutdown.
Kirkmeyer served five terms as Weld County commissioner and most recently in the Colorado Senate, passing 17 bills in his first year in office, his campaign website reads. She is a fourth-generation Coloradian, who previously owned and operated a dairy farm and flower business.
“We grew up in poverty and were expected to join 4-H. My parents didn’t just give us a calf, we had to pay for it,” she recalls. “We learned to work hard. We learned American values and that hard work pays off.
She has six grandchildren, and the decision to run for Congress is based on preserving their future and others like them, Kirkmeyer said.
Weld County is Colorado’s leading energy producer, and Kirkmeyer says she has a proven track record in the fight for the industry.
“This [industry] is extremely important to the district,” Kirkmeyer said. “I fought for these jobs and for the energy.”
By comparison, she blames Caraveo for being a major sponsor of Senate Bill 181, which created setbacks that the industry defined as extreme and which voters across the state overruled, for a state council to re-implement a similar policy.
“She’s one of the main reasons the oil and gas industry was killed in my county,” Kirkmeyer said.
There is also a stark contrast between the candidates in terms of agriculture, says Kirkmeyer, citing a specific piece of legislation as an example.
“She was one of the main champions of organizing farm workers, because what’s good for California is good for Colorado,” complained Kirkmeyer. “This [legislation] wasn’t good for anyone. Those in our district nourish and feed the world.
Converting the 8th Arrondissement’s economy to other important revenue sources, such as tourism, is not a solution, Kirkmeyer said.
“[Caraveo] has been busy killing two important industries for Colorado,” she said.
She’s also concerned about the rising crime rate, linking Caraveo to the nation’s highest auto theft rates through “coddling criminals,” Kirkmeyer said. Two to three vehicles are stolen a day in Colorado, she added.
During the campaign shutdown, Kirkmeyer also took aim at TABOR refunds that a majority of residents should have received. The Republican Party of Colorado filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State regarding the communication used with taxpayers.
“Jared Polis and the Democrats made it look like they were giving people money back,” Kirkmeyer said. “It’s a tax refund. My opponent worked to get rid of TABOR.
Jackson recently criticized Caraveo for making “ending TABOR one of his top priorities, [and] now she’s unabashedly taking credit for the refunds she voted for elimination.
On the issue of education, Kirkmeyer indicated his support for parental rights: “Parents should make the decisions that are best for their children, not the government.”
If elected, Kirkmeyer would seek to serve on the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means and Agriculture committees in Congress, she said.
“I’m a master florist, I can milk a cow and balance a budget,” Kirkmeyer said.
Later during his visit, a fundraiser organized by a who’s who of Morgan County and eastern Colorado was organized for Kirkmeyer. It was moderated by businessman Nick Erker, dairy farmers Chris and Mary Kraft, Viaero Wireless owner Frank and Jennifer DiRico and former senator Cory Gardner, while U.S. Representative Ken Buck, R-Windsor, also provided support.
Buck represents a district in eastern Colorado that includes all of Morgan County and borders the new 8th District.