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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)

State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Weld County Republican, launched a campaign Monday to represent Colorado’s new, highly competitive 8th Congressional District. 

“I believe America is an exceptional country currently plagued by a temporary bout of poor leadership and decision-making,” Kirkmeyer said in a written statement. “With fresh, new leadership and thinking, we can enjoy a new era of peace and prosperity. … My campaign will be about offering common-sense, conservative solutions to the challenges facing America: inflation, deficit spending, open borders, and increasing crime and lawlessness.”

The Republican says she plans to unveil a “renew America” plan in the coming months that will be the cornerstone of her bid.

Kirkmeyer is the second Republican with a background in politics to announce a bid in the district, which spans from the northeast Denver suburbs of Thornton, Northglenn and Brighton into Greeley. 

Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine jumped into the race earlier this month.

Democrats would have a 1.3 percentage point advantage in the district, based on the results of eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020. The outcome of the race for the district could determine whether Democrats retain control of the U.S. House or if the GOP wins back the majority.

Before being elected to the statehouse in 2020, Kirkmeyer spent two decades as a Weld County commissioner. She is a strong supporter of Colorado’s oil and gas industry and has lived in southern Weld County for more than 35 years.

During her first legislative session, Kirkmeyer was a prime sponsor of several bipartisan bills that became law, including ones reorganizing sales and use tax exemptions for agriculture, livestock and special fuels, and creating a license plate to support foster families.

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Some of her measures, however, didn’t pass and only had GOP support, including a bill that would have required emergency rules issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment follow the State Administrative Procedures act and be subject to legal opinion and a hearing.

Kirkmeyer, speaking to The Colorado Sun in a brief interview, said she thinks her bipartisan work at the Capitol this year will make her attractive to voters in the competitive 8th District. Much of Kirmeyer’s state Senate district overlaps with the 8th District.

As a county commissioner, Kirkmeyer was known for more hard-line views. She supported an unsuccessful 2013 push for 11 counties in northeast Colorado, including Weld County, to break off from Colorado and form a 51st state. Recently, she has been a fierce critic of the governor.

One issue that’s likely to arise in the Republican primary for the 8th District is the 2020 election, which some in the GOP have claimed was stolen from former President Donald Trump. In her last days at the statehouse, 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

Kirkmeyer said that President Joe Biden was fairly elected president in 2020. 

“I believe that it was a legitimate election,” she said of last year’s contest. “I was in that election.  A lot of people, not just Republicans, lost some faith in the election process and I think we have to figure out a way to build that back.”

Kirkmeyer, speaking on The George Brauchler Show on Monday morning, said she doesn’t support Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandates. “It’s about personal responsibility and people taking care of themselves and their children,” she said. “This president doesn’t need to be putting in mandates.”

Kirkmeyer said that she was vaccinated against COVID-19.

This won’t be Kirkmeyer’s first congressional bid. She ran to represent Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in 2014, but lost in the Republican primary to Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who has held the seat ever since.

Kirkmeyer’s term in the Colorado Senate ends in 2025, meaning that if she loses her 8th District bid she will still have her seat in the legislature.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee slammed Kirkmeyer and Saine as being too extreme for the 8th District.

“Secessionist Barbara Kirkmeyer and Lori Saine are two extremist peas in a pod whose radical views completely disqualify them from representing Colorado’s 8th District in Congress,” DCCC spokeswoman Helen Kalla said in a written statement. “Coloradans deserve better than the out-of-touch candidates Republicans are offering.”

On the Democratic side of the 8th District race, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Thornton Democrat, is running to represent the district. As is Chaz Tedesco, an Adams County commissioner.

Two political newcomers also have filed to run in the Republican primary: Giuliana “Jewels” Gray, a wedding photographer, and Ryan Gonzalez, whose LinkedIn profile says he is a banker.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 2:31 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, to correct the spelling of Ryan Gonzalez’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...