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Yadira Caraveo, Democratic candidate in Colorado's 8th Congressional District, left, smiles as she arrives on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

National Republicans say Colorado’s highly competitive 8th Congressional District is one of their top 2024 targets. But first the GOP has to find a candidate to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo of Thornton.

No Republican has filed to run against Caraveo next year in the district that spans Denver’s northeast suburbs along U.S. 85 into Greeley. She beat Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer by less than a percentage point, or roughly 1,600 votes, in 2022.

It’s still early, but each day Caraveo doesn’t have a challenger is another day she can build her fundraising advantage. Candidates must file to run before they can start raising money.

Caraveo’s campaign began April with about $300,000 in the bank.

The 8th District is expected to be the GOP’s best shot at flipping a seat of consequence in Colorado next year, and the outcome of the contest could help decide which party controls the U.S. House. 

A number of Republican politicians are weighing whether to toss their hat into the ring, including Kirkmeyer.

“I’m still considering it,” Kirkmeyer told The Colorado Sun last week. “I haven’t said that I’m going to and I haven’t ruled it out at this point.”

She plans to make a decision by July 4. If she makes another congressional bid, she’ll have to forgo running for reelection to another four-year term in the state Senate, where she is a member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee. Republicans, however, are in a 23-12 minority in the chamber, and they aren’t expected to take control of the Senate after the 2024 election. 

Barbara Kirkmeyer talks to a District 8 voter with election 2022 banners behind her.
State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Republican running to represent the 8th Congressional District, speaks to a voter at an event Saturday at her campaign’s headquarters in Thornton. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The GOP’s next real shot at taking power in the Colorado Senate will be in the 2026 election.

State Rep. Gabe Evans, of Fort Lupton, is also mulling an 8th District bid.

“I haven’t said ‘yes.’ I haven’t said ‘no,’” he said. “I can definitively tell you I have no concrete plans right now. Everybody and their brother has been reaching out to me.”

Another Republican considering a bid for the seat is Weld County Commissioner Scott James.

“I have received numerous inquiries from folks and have been asked to run,” he said. “I’m honored by the encouragement and am taking the time to discuss this with my colleagues and my family.”

Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno and former state Rep. Dan Woog, of Erie, are taking a look, too.

“There are multiple seats I’m keeping my eye on,” said Woog, who narrowly lost reelection to the state House last year, “but I haven’t taken steps toward any at this point in time.”

Moreno said an 8th District bid is on the table.

“I’ve had some encouragement,” he said. “I’ve had some conversations.”

Politico suggested last month that Joe O’Dea, the Denver construction company owner who made an unsuccessful 2022 U.S. Senate bid, is considering whether to make a run in the 8th District.

The Sun confirmed he is interested, but hasn’t taken any steps toward launching a campaign.

Republican Joe O’Dea speaks during a televised debate with Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

One big hold up: O’Dea lives in the Cherry Hills Village/Greenwood Village area, far from the 8th District’s boundaries. While congressional candidates don’t have to live in the district they are running to represent, O’Dea would almost certainly be painted as a carpetbagger by opponents if he launched a bid to unseat Caraveo. That fact reduces the likelihood he would jump into the race. 

O’Dea’s federal campaign account — which remains active — had about $50,000 in it at the start of April. He gave millions to his campaign. O’Dea lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet last year by 15 percentage points.

The GOP primary in the 8th District will be held on June 25, 2024.

The Colorado Sun —

Desk: 720-432-2229

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.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul