At least three candidates running in Colorado’s congressional primaries this year live outside the districts they’re seeking to represent, a rare but legal move that leaves them vulnerable to political scrutiny.
Several other congressional candidates in the state are relative newcomers to their political parties.
The Colorado Sun analyzed voter registration and voting history records for 25 congressional and statewide candidates running this year in competitive primaries to learn where they live and more about their relationship with their political parties. In an election year shaped by redistricting, candidates have been jumping between races and changing their affiliations to find the race that’s right — or maybe most opportune — for them.
Federal law doesn’t require congressional candidates to live in their districts. They just have to live in the state in which they’re seeking office.
The three candidates running to represent districts they don’t live in are:
- Tyler Allcorn, a military veteran running in the four-way 8th Congressional Republican primary, lives in west Arvada, which is in the 7th Congressional District. He said he’d move into the 8th District “when we win this race.” If he loses, however, he doesn’t plan to move.
- Andrew Heaton, a businessman and one of three Republicans challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District, which is based in El Paso County, lives in Lone Tree, which is in Douglas County. Heaton is therefore a resident of the 4th Congressional District. Colorado Politics reports he owns a medical marijuana dispensary and related facilities in Colorado Springs.
- Alex Walker, an engineer and one of three candidates vying for the 3rd Congressional District Democratic nomination, lives in Avon, which is in the 2nd Congressional District. He was the subject of a Washington Post story about his campaign’s use of social media.
David Torres, one of two Democrats vying for the 5th District nomination, lived in Lakewood when he launched his bid. But he grew up in Colorado Springs and recently rented a house and moved back there.
All four candidates are political newcomers.
Walker’s campaign said the candidate was born in Virginia (even though the Washington Post story said he is a Colorado native), raised in Littleton and that he “has lived in Avon off and on for 10 years.”
Amy Beihl, Walker’s campaign manager, said Walker lived in Los Angeles “for a portion of the pandemic,” but it’s unclear where Walker lives when he’s not in Avon. A spokesman didn’t answer that question, nor did he answer questions about where Walker is registered to vote, though it appears to be downtown Denver.
“Voters have a lot on their minds — another horrific school shooting that took the lives of innocent children and teachers, a woman’s right to control her own body and protecting voter rights,” Beihl said in a written statement. “What they’re not concerned about is a candidate’s address.”
Biehl added that Avon was within the 3rd District boundaries before redistricting last year. She said Walker chose to run in the 3rd District, as opposed to the 2nd District or the 7th Congressional District, where he grew up, “because Lauren Boebert is an embarrassment to Colorado.”
Allcorn, meanwhile, said he is running in the 8th District, which spans from the northeast Denver suburbs to Greeley, because the “oil and gas industry was my family’s ticket to the American Dream and I want to keep the liberal politicians from ruining that dream for future generations of workers in the district.” He was born in Saudi Arabia and, after stops in countries across the world, landed in the Houston area with his parents in 1993 when he was 9 years old. He became a U.S. citizen in 2010 and moved to Colorado about two years ago.
“I understand that some politicians have been planning to run for Congress since grade school and base every decision from where they buy a house, to what football team they root for on how it will help their ambitions, but that’s not me,” Allcorn said in a statement.
It’s not a political death sentence to live outside a district you’re running to represent. U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Centennial, lived in Denver, in the 1st Congressional District, when he successfully launched his bid to represent the 6th Congressional District based in Aurora. Former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, a Republican, lived in Boulder County, in the 2nd Congressional District, when he launched his bid to represent the 7th District.
Party affiliation is new for some
Some candidates may be new to their districts; others are new to their political party.
Here are a few who recently became Democrats or Republicans:
- Erik Aadland, an Army veteran, was an unaffiliated voter until registering as a Republican in March 2021, a few months before he joined Colorado’s U.S. Senate race. He later switched to the 7th Congressional District contest.
- Rebecca Keltie, a Navy veteran running in the 5th District, belonged to the Unity Party before becoming a Republican on the last day of 2020.
- Heaton switched his registration to Republican from Libertarian in December and then announced his congressional candidacy in February. He was a Republican until switching to the Libertarian party in 2008.
- Adam Frisch, a former Aspen City Council member running in the 3rd District, registered as a Democrat in December after being an unaffiliated voter. He jumped into the race in February.
- Mike O’Donnell, who is running to win the GOP nomination for secretary of state, switched from Republican to unaffiliated in 2019 and then back to Republican in November.
Mail ballots in wide use
Colorado’s vote-by-mail system is criticized by some Republican candidates this year, including Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is running for secretary of state, and state Rep. Ron Hanks, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Hanks voted using mail ballots (i.e., not in person) in general and primary elections from 2014 through 2020.
Voting information for Peters is confidential, which voters may request if they fear for their safety because of domestic violence, stalking or other reasons. The Peters campaign did not return emails asking her to release the records.
In fact, the only candidates who voted in person recently were Heaton and Laurel Imer, one of three Republican candidates in the 7th Congressional District. Heaton and Imer both voted in person in 2020. But Imer, who has cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election, voted using mail ballots from 2008 through 2018.
Voting information for state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, who is running in the 8th District, is also confidential. But Kirkmeyer asked the Secretary of State’s Office to make her voting history available to The Sun. It shows she’s voted consistently since 1988.
Most candidates running this year have regularly voted in recent primary and general elections in Colorado. Here are a few exceptions:
- Allcorn and Keltie only voted in Colorado’ 2020 general election in 2020
- Walker voted in the 2018 general election and the 2020 presidential primary election, but not the 2018 primary election and or the 2020 general election
- Michael Colombe, a Colorado Springs Democrat running against Torres in the 5th Congressional District, voted in the 2016 general election and then didn’t vote again until November 2021
- Aadland voted in general elections from 2016 through 2020, but didn’t vote in any primary contests in those election years
You can register to vote in the June 28 primary election at govotecolorado.com.