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Democrat Andrew Romanoff announced Thursday morning that he is running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020. In this April 2014 photo the former Colorado House speaker and then-U.S. House candidate jokes with delegates during the Colorado Democratic Party's State Assembly in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Democrat Andrew Romanoff is making his third bid for Congress, announcing Thursday morning that he will join the slate of candidates trying to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020.

“My campaign, like my career, is grounded in the people of Colorado,” the former speaker of the Colorado House said in a written statement announcing his campaign. “I know firsthand what women and men of goodwill can achieve when united by a common purpose.”

Romanoff, 52, was most recently CEO of Mental Health Colorado — a position he stepped down from Thursday as he joined the senate race — but has a long history in Colorado politics.

In 2010, he lost a contentious primary challenge to Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, during which he even sold his Denver home to finance the effort. Then, in 2014, he attempted to unseat former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, but was handily beaten.

Romanoff was a state representative from 2000 to 2008, serving four years as leader of the House.

In his campaign announcement, Romanoff set early themes, including supporting Medicare for all, the so-called “Green New Deal” to move toward renewable energy and an immigration reform plan that includes a pathway to citizenship. Also, he has vowed not to take contributions from special-interest groups.

“We’ve seen our planet plundered by an industry that puts its profits ahead of our survival,” Romanoff’s statement said. “And just as troubling, we’ve seen politicians do the bidding of billionaires, catering to their corporate benefactors while sticking the rest of us with the bill. I’m running to change that.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun.)

Romanoff joins a growing list of Democrats trying to unseat Gardner next year in what’s expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation. He is the second high-profile candidate to jump into the contest. Mike Johnston, a former state senator and 2018 candidate for Colorado governor, announced his candidacy last week.

Romanoff and Johnston both have strong name recognition in Colorado and deep fundraising connections.

Other Democrats in the race to unseat Gardner, a first-term senator from Yuma, include Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio, Dustin Leitzel and Keith Pottratz.

MORE: The 2020 election starts today and Cory Gardner is in trouble

Others rumored to be weighing a bid include former state House Speaker Crisanta Duran, former Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter.

Updated on Monday, March 18, 2018, at 4:30 p.m.: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Trish Zornio’s name.

Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...