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Republican Lori Saine, a Weld County commissioner, enters race for new 8th Congressional District

Controversial former state lawmaker likely will face a competitive primary as Democrats and the GOP vie for Colorado’s newest congressional seat

Colorado State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Weld County, second from left, talks with Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, while in the foreground Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton, talks with Rep. Dan Thurlow,-R-Grand Junction, on the closing day of the 2015 Colorado legislative session, at the Capitol, in Denver, Wednesday May 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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Republican Lori Saine, a Weld County commissioner and former state representative, is running to represent Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District.

Saine, who filed paperwork Tuesday to launch her campaign, is the first high-profile Republican to formally jump into the race to represent the district, which stretches from the north Denver suburbs to Greeley. 

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The district is 39% Hispanic and is expected to be one of the most competitive contests in the country in 2022. Democrats will have a 1.3 percentage point advantage in the district, according to an analysis by nonpartisan legislative staff of the results of eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020.

It’s likely, however, that the Dacono resident will face a competitive primary. State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Brighton Republican, is mulling a bid in the district. Kirkmeyer is Saine’s predecessor on the Weld County Commission.

“I have been overwhelmed with people urging me to run,” Kirkmeyer told The Unaffiliated, The Colorado Sun’s political newsletter, in October. “Folks have expressed concern that (Democratic state) Rep. (Yadira) Caraveo is too liberal for this new district and she has more in common with Bernie Sanders than the people of Adams and Weld counties. I’m listening to these voters and will have an announcement soon after the court approves district boundaries.”

Freshman Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Weld County, works at her desk before a session of the Colorado Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)

Republicans Jewels Gray, a Brighton photographer, and Ryan Gonzalez, of Greeley, have also launched campaigns in the 8th District, though neither have a political track record. Gray raised nearly $15,000, a nominal amount for a congressional race, through Sept. 30.

“If rumors are true about Barbara Kirkmeyer and that’s the field, that will be a very competitive primary,” said Dick Wadhams, a political consultant and former Colorado GOP chairman. “It will be an interesting test of whether the Republican party wants to win a competitive race for the 8th District or not. Barbara Kirkmeyer has the competitive background. It’s harder to see that possibility in Lori Saine.”

This news first appeared in The Unaffiliated. Subscribe here to get the twice-weekly political newsletter from The Colorado Sun.

Saine, who was elected to the Weld County commission in 2020, is known as a conservative firebrand. 

As a departing lawmaker, Saine convened a December 2020 hearing on election integrity that one Democratic leader called a “dangerous stunt.” The hearing resulted in no evidence of fraud

During her eight years in the state House, Saine unsuccessfully sponsored proposals to severely restrict abortion. She also sponsored successful legislation to allow children in foster care settings to get driver’s licenses and to prohibit posting images of youth suicide.

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In 2017, she was arrested at Denver International Airport after authorities said they found a loaded handgun in her purse as she went through security. She wasn’t charged in the incident, however.

“Lori has been a champion for the people against progressive Marxists and RINO ‘Republicans’ who act like Democrats, and is running for Congress to fight for freedom against the Biden-Harris-Schumer-Pelosi Gang and their Socialist-Communist Agenda,” her congressional campaign website says

Saine didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail and text message Tuesday from The Colorado Sun seeking comment.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo and Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco, both of Thornton, have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run in the 8th District. 

Carveo raised nearly $108,000 through Sept. 30. 

This is a developing story that will be updated.