Four candidates are running in the June 28 Republican primary in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District for the chance to face Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo in November.
The 8th District is the most diverse U.S. House district in Colorado and it’s expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation this year as Republicans fight to take back control of Washington, D.C. More than 40% of active registered voters in the district are unaffiliated, and the rest are about evenly split between the Democratic and Republican parties.
The Colorado Sun asked the four Republican candidates in the 8th District, which covers parts of Adams, Larimer and Weld counties, their positions on what are expected to be the top issues in the race.
Who are the candidates
- Tyler Allcorn, a former U.S. Army Green Beret. He is a political newcomer who lives in western Arvada, which isn’t in the 8th District. He plans to move into the district if voters elect him to represent them.
- Barbara Kirkmeyer, a state senator from Brighton. She is a former Weld County Commissioner and dairy farmer.
- Jan Kulmann, the mayor of Thornton and an oil and gas engineer.
- Lori Saine, a Weld County Commissioner. The conservative firebrand, from Firestone, served eight years in the state House.
When should abortions be allowed and under what circumstances?
All four candidates identify as being anti-abortion.
Kulmann and Allcorn don’t support abortions except in cases of rape and incest or if the life of the mother is at risk. Kirkmeyer thinks abortions should be allowed only in cases where a mother’s life is endangered by pregnancy.
As a state lawmaker, Saine sponsored legislation that would have made all abortions illegal, including in cases of rape and incest, and would have made doctors who perform abortions subject to criminal penalties, including life in prison or the death penalty. “We believe this is a murdering of a human being,” she said, according to a 2019 Colorado Sun article.
Here are more details on where the candidates stand on abortion:
ALLCORN: “I’m pro-life and believe in exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother,” Allcorn said in a written statement. His campaign website says he believes in the “sanctity of life and the unborn” and that “taxpayer money should never be used to subsidize abortions.”
KIRKMEYER: “I am pro-life but accept an exception for when the life of the mother is in imminent danger.”
KULMANN: “I’m pro-life, and don’t support abortion except in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother. If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, it will be up to the states. Colorado voters have spoken on this issue several times, and the Supreme Court decision won’t change much here. I do support federal legislation that would limit late-term abortion, except in cases when a mother’s life is at risk, and I strongly support the Hyde Amendment — taxpayers shouldn’t pay for abortion.”
SAINE: “I am pro-life and my record speaks for itself,” Saine said in a written response to The Sun. She described the recently passed House Bill 1279, which affirms abortion access in Colorado, as allowing for “the butchering of children up until the day of birth.” Saine has also tried to make Weld County a “pro-life sanctuary” as a symbolic stance against abortion. If elected to Congress, she has said she will sponsor legislation — already introduced by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and West Virginia U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, both Republicans — to ban abortions starting at conception, essentially extending personhood to fertilized eggs.
Would you support any additional federal restrictions on guns, including expanding background checks or enacting safe-storage requirements?
ALLCORN: “We don’t need more laws on the books, and I will stand against any efforts to disarm law-abiding Americans,” Allcorn said in a statement.
“Passing laws that restrict firearm usage will only affect law-abiding citizens,” Allcorn’s campaign website says. “Criminals will ignore these laws, and good people will suffer.”
KIRKMEYER: “Our goal must be to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. That starts with better enforcement of laws and ending the revolving door that allows bad guys back onto the streets to create more crime,” she said in a written response. “I have yet to see a proposal regarding gun laws that would prevent crimes and shootings. If someone is willing to commit murder, he or she is not going to be dissuaded by a new gun law.” Asked in an interview whether she supports requiring universal background checks, she asked what purpose they would serve at the federal level “if they are being handled” by states.
KULMANN: Kulmann has not directly answered this question, emphasizing in written responses the need to comprehensively address a national “mental health crisis” and expand the number of police in communities and schools. “Groups as diverse as Children’s Hospital, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association have all pointed to this crisis in our kids,” Kulmann said in a written answer. She added: “Those who say we don’t need more law enforcement in our communities and in our schools are reckless and wrong.”
SAINE: “Would-be mass murderers want easy targets and will find a way to get weapons regardless of the laws that they ignore. Folks should investigate for themselves why… mass shootings haven’t happened at thousands of schools with armed teachers. I see that many of those same schools’ post signs warning that staff is armed and trained,” Saine said in written responses. “I was once approached by a superintendent in my district who asked me a question: ‘The sheriff is over 30 minutes away, Rep. Saine — am I supposed to hide with the kids in a dark corner and hope the shooter doesn’t find us?’ Shortly thereafter, that same school board chose to arm certain teachers and staff.”
Saine sued — so far unsuccessfully — to overturn a Colorado law that allows judges to temporarily order the confiscation of guns from those deemed at risk to themselves or others. She voted no on a 2013 bill requiring background checks for all gun sales, as did every other Republican in the state General Assembly. She also led the charge to repeal a Colorado ban on high-capacity magazines, and recently advocated on Twitter — after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas — to “let teachers carry.”
Do you support a path to legal citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally?
Kirkmeyer, Kulmann and Saine expressed some openness to offering a path to citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally who were brought to America as children. Many of those immigrants currently have deportation protections and work authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
Allcorn does not support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
All four candidates also called for tighter border security and other immigration system reforms.
Here’s where they stand:
KIRKMEYER: “If they’re already in the country, I think there’s a lot of discussion that needs to occur there,” Kirkmeyer said in an interview with The Sun. “My kids went to school in Fort Lupton and they had friends whose parents brought them here when they were 2 months old, and they didn’t know it. They didn’t know that they weren’t American citizens. They always thought they were until they turned 18. I think in those cases, we need to have compassion and we need to work with them to find a path (to citizenship). Is it just an automatic, you’re done? No.”
KULMANN: Kulmann said “a humane and sensible immigration policy means stopping the flow of illegal immigration and finding a commonsense solution for those who are here, especially children.” Securing the border “with a massive commitment of resources, including a wall” should come first, she said. But children who came to the U.S. through no choice of their own deserve legal status, she said. And there should be a process for working unauthorized immigrants who haven’t broken the law to seek legal citizenship.
“Those who have followed the rules should be at the front of the line. Those who came here illegally should be at the back of the line,” she said in a written response.
SAINE: “Children brought across the border should be offered an opportunity to become a citizen like all other immigrants in a naturalization process that is fair, understandable and that works,” Saine said in a written response. She also said that the immigration system is bureaucratic and encourages malfeasance.
“I have worked personally with a business owner who was struggling with our citizenship process. … He was asked to provide monetary compensation by an outside agent to move things along when his paperwork got stuck. That is unacceptable and, as your congresswoman, I will work to fix this so we have a legal immigration system that works for those who want to become Americans,” Saine said in a written response.
How would you represent a district as diverse — economically, demographically, etc — as the 8th District?
The 8th District has the largest percentage of Hispanic people of any of Colorado’s U.S. House districts at 39%. And it stretches from north Denver to the conservative stronghold of Weld County, which has notable agriculture and oil and gas industries.
ALLCORN: “I’m an immigrant to this country. I came here in 1993. I understand what it is to come to a new place somewhere that’s very different from where you were growing up and where you’re from. I understand what the challenges are,” Allcorn said at a May event hosted by the Republican Women of Weld.
KIRKMEYER: “Voters across the district, no matter their economic or demographic status, face the same challenges and concerns: rising crime and lawlessness, inflation, illegal immigration, and attacks on energy and agriculture jobs. I will appeal to our diverse district by attacking those challenges, head on.”
KULMANN: “By doing what I’ve always done, listening to the people and following through on what I say I’m going to do. My experiences as an oil and gas engineer in the fields up in Weld County and as the mayor for the City of Thornton have allowed me to not only develop a strong understanding of the issues, but it has allowed me to develop strong relationships with the community.”
SAINE: “I approach every voter the same when I talk to them about freedom because they all have the same concerns about the loss of freedom in our country and the loss of opportunity for their children. And I am finding all mothers are concerned about the rising cost of gas, food, and rising crime plaguing their neighborhoods, all exacerbated by Joe Biden’s failed extreme economic agenda.”
Who won the 2020 election?
Three of the four candidates say Joe Biden won the election. Saine has not clearly answered the question.
ALLCORN: “Whether you like it or not, Joe Biden is currently sitting in the Oval Office. And he shouldn’t be, but he is because he was elected,” Allcorn said at the Republican Women of Weld forum. He added, “that doesn’t mean that there isn’t voter fraud that needs to be addressed in our country, and that we need to look for policies to prevent that from happening again.” He supports a requirement that voters show photo identification to cast a ballot, which Colorado does not require.
KIRKMEYER: “Joe Biden won the election,” Kirkmeyer said at the Republican Women of Weld forum. She added it “doesn’t mean that we don’t need to go back and look at what’s going on within election law.”
KULMANN: “Joe Biden won the election and he’s a lousy president. I am running to take back the House and put a stop on his radical agenda that continues to hurt working families across the country.”
SAINE: Saine has not directly answered the question. “A lot of voters in this district have reached out to me about election questions and concerns about election integrity,” she told The Sun. “I think both parties could meet these concerns head on by passing a photo voter ID law. It makes sense to folks that you would need some kind of photo ID to vote and this would allay many concerns for our constituents now and in the future,“ she added in a written response.
As a state lawmaker, Saine initiated a late 2020 hearing over election security issues that turned up no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
What will be your top priority as a member of Congress?
ALLCORN: Allcorn’s campaign did not respond to this question from The Sun.
KIRKMEYER: She said her “most immediate priority” is to secure the Southern border. “This is something a new, Republican Congress can do something about immediately by using our leverage to force the Biden administration to act,” she said. “After that, my priorities are to rein in inflation, reduce deficit spending and debt, and restore America’s energy independence.”
KULMANN: “I’m an oil and gas engineer, and the No. 1 thing I hear from voters is just how difficult record-breaking energy costs are making their lives. My top priority in Congress would be to find solutions that unleash American energy dominance.”
SAINE: “My No. 1 priority will be to stop President Biden’s Marxist-socialist agenda and use the power of the purse to force the executive branch to bring back policies to secure our border, strengthen our military and increase domestic energy production… Biden-era inflation must be halted and reversed before our economy, family budgets and businesses are destroyed.”
Do you believe climate change is human caused and, if so, what should be done about it?
None of the candidates clearly answered whether anything should be done to address climate change.
ALLCORN: “We don’t need to destroy our economy or pursue the Green New Deal policies of the radical left to protect our environment. Colorado is a world leader in responsible energy development, and we can supply the world if radical liberals would just get out of the way,” Allcorn said. At a March candidate forum, he said that the country needs to be energy independent and that the “green energy industry” is “not ready to take over.”
KIRKMEYER: “The climate is always changing, and the Earth has been gradually warming since the Little Ice Age. To what extent any warming is a result of man-caused activity is unknown. The United States has been reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide in recent years, but worldwide emissions continue to grow due to China, India and other emerging economies.”
KULMANN: “Climate change is happening, and humans contribute, but it is innovation and technology that will solve it, not bureaucracy and certainly not far-left policies. Witness: carbon emissions have plummeted in the U.S. in recent years because of the growing prevalence of natural gas to power our economy. It wasn’t a law or a mandate that made this happen. It was private sector innovation, and some really smart engineers,” Kulmann said in a written response. “Where Biden and the Democrats get energy wrong is by trying to make one good and the other bad. The truth is, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy in this country. And we need to get serious about American energy independence. If I have my way, America will never beg for another drop of energy from OPEC or Putin again.”
SAINE: “Weld County not only has the largest production of oil and gas in Colorado, it also has the largest renewable energy production portfolio in the state, including wind, solar and biogas. Government should not pick winners and losers in the energy market and Weld (County) now encourages an all-the-above energy production that our consumers and businesses have asked for. The petroleum industry and farmers and ranchers in Weld are teaming up to produce solar at record rates. Farmers particularly like the stability of the extra income that solar provides.” As commissioner, she supported a county solar code, she said.