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Pueblo activist Sol Sandoval is running as a Democrat in the 3rd Congressional District. (Handout)

Sol Sandoval beat out five other candidates Tuesday night to secure a spot on the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary ballot and a chance to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert in November.

Sandoval, an activist from Pueblo, will be one of at least three Democrats on the primary ballot on June 28.

Sandoval secured 46.46% of the delegate vote at the 3rd District Democratic assembly, which was held virtually on Tuesday. She was the only one of the six candidates attempting to get on the ballot through the assembly to secure 30% of the delegate vote, the threshold required to advance.

The candidates who did not meet the 30% threshold were:

  • State Rep. Don Valdez, of La Jara, who secured 28.6% of the delegate vote
  • Veterinarian Debby Burnett, who secured 21.8%
  • Glenwood Springs lawyer Colin Wilhelm, who secured 2.02%
  • Human services worker Kellie Rhodes, who secured 1.01% 
  • Root Routledge, a climate activist who didn’t receive a single vote

There were 297 delegates casting votes at the assembly.

Sandoval, in a speech before the vote was taken, boasted that she has raised nearly $1 million in her bid to unseat Boebert. 

“I have demonstrated to you that I know how to raise money, something that we are going to need to defeat Boebert,” she said. “Support the candidate tonight who has raised the most money, who has traveled the most all across this district.”

Burnett, who lives in Gunnison, warned that Sandoval doesn’t have the rural connections to beat Boebert, while Wilhelm, who pitched himself as a moderate, insinuated that Sandoval is too liberal for the 3rd District.

“She’s a nice person,” said Routledge, who lives in Durango. “She will not win the general election.”

In a statement after her victory, Sandoval said she can bring people together and that her goal is to unify everyone.

“I am the proud Latina daughter of a union family, working class immigrants and naturalized citizens who came to this country seeking a better life for themselves,” Sandoval said. “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college and I will always fight for working families and better opportunity for all.

Two Democrats — Adam Frisch and Alex Walker — are already on the Democratic primary ballot in the 3rd District after collecting petition signatures and submitting them to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman, loaned his campaign $1.5 million in the first fundraising quarter of the year, from Jan. 1 to March 31, and raised another $230,000 from donors, according to his campaign. Frisch had about $1.65 million in cash on hand to begin the month.

Former Aspen City Council member Adam Frisch, a Democrat, is running to represent 3rd Congressional District. (Handout)

“Given Boebert’s national fundraising ability, we know only a very well-financed opponent can defeat her,” said Alvina Vasquez, a spokeswoman for Frisch.

Walker, an upstart candidate from Avon who has worked in marketing and as a mechanical engineer, loaned his campaign $100,000 to get it off the ground. He then raised more than $128,000 last quarter.

Avon isn’t in the 3rd District, but candidates can run in a congressional district they don’t live in as long as they live in the state.

Democrat Scott Yates, a former journalist and activist trying to do away with daylight saving time, turned in signatures to make the ballot, but the Secretary of State’s Office hasn’t finished reviewing them yet.

The eventual Democratic nominee will face an uphill battle in trying to unseat Boebert in November, assuming she fends off a primary challenge from state Sen. Don Coram, of Montrose, and Marina Zimmerman, a first-time candidate who works as a crane operator. The 3rd District leans heavily in Republicans’ favor. 

Boebert won by 6 percentage points in 2020. And the 3rd District’s boundaries were redrawn last year as part of Colorado’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process to be even more favorable to the GOP. 

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert holds an end-of-year press conference at the Home Loan Bank community room in Grand Junction on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. (McKenzie Lange, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

Republicans now have a 9-percentage-point advantage in the district, according to an analysis of the results of eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020 completed by nonpartisan legislative staff.

As of April 1, there were 151,420 registered Republicans in the district and 121,079 Democrats. Unaffiliated voters make up the district’s largest voting bloc, at 203,938.

Additionally, Boebert is a strong fundraiser with a national network of donors. She began the year with more than $2 million in her campaign bank account.

Here are the results from the other Democratic congressional district assemblies in Colorado:

  • In the 1st Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver secured a spot on the Democratic primary ballot at assembly. She may face a progressive challenge from Neal Walia, whose petition signatures are still being reviewed by the Secretary of State’s Office. Walia worked as an aide to U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper when he was governor.
  • In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette is the only Democrat on the primary ballot.
  • In the 4th Congressional District, Ike McCorkle, a military veteran, is the only Democrat on the primary ballot.
  • In the 5th Congressional District, Democrats selected Michael Columbe and David Torres at a Saturday assembly. 
  • In the 6th Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Jason Crow is the only Democrat on the primary ballot.
  • In the 7th Congressional District, state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, of Lakewood, is the sole candidate on the Democratic primary ballot after she won the assembly by a landslide.
  • In the 8th Congressional District, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo of Thornton made the ballot at the assembly and via petition. Assembly organizers said it was unclear if Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco, of Thornton, secured the 30% delegate support he needed to make the ballot. The final results are expected to be announced on Wednesday.

Republicans are holding several congressional district assemblies on Friday in Colorado Springs.

Democrats and Republicans will hold their statewide assemblies on Saturday.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....