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Two Democrats qualify for primary election ballot in race to represent Colorado Springs area in Congress

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Two Democrats qualify for primary election ballot in race to represent Colorado Springs area in Congress

Apr 08, 2024 | 6:45 pm ET
By Lindsey Toomer
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Two Democrats qualify for primary election ballot in race to represent Colorado Springs area in Congress
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People stroll along North Tejon Street in Colorado Springs on Sept. 26, 2021. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

Democrats in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District will have two candidates in the primary election seeking to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn after he announced his retirement earlier this year.  

At the party’s congressional district assembly hosted by El Paso County Democrats on Saturday, candidates River Gassen and Joe Reagan earned enough delegate support to make it onto the June 25 primary election ballot. 

A candidate needs votes from at least 30% of delegates to qualify for the primary ballot. Candidate John Edgar did not make it onto the ballot, having received 23.85% of delegate votes. 

Gassen, who had support from 40.17% of delegates, is a research assistant at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where she’s pursuing a master’s degree in physics. She said during her candidate speech Saturday that if elected she’d prioritize school safety and preventing gun violence, clear air and water, reproductive rights, veteran support services and LGBTQ rights. 

“We shouldn’t have to choose between basic necessities like housing and health care, paying our utilities, or putting food on the table,” Gassen said. “This community deserves better.”

Reagan, who had support from 35.98% of delegates, is an Army veteran who has worked in a variety of industries after getting his MBA from the University of Virginia. He talked about prioritizing mental health resources for veterans, access to reproductive and universal health care, immigration reform and housing affordability. 

“We need to make sure that we’re addressing the burdens of today, while ensuring that our children and our grandchildren can live and afford to live in the communities that they’ve grown up in,” Reagan said.

Democrats had 239 delegates participate in the assembly.

Candidates who seek access to the primary ballot must win at least 30% of the votes cast through their party’s assembly or collect enough valid signatures to petition for their names to appear on the ballot. 

Republicans in the 5th District last month at the Republican district assembly selected former state Rep. Dave Williams, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, as the party’s primary election candidate. Republican candidate Jeff Crank also qualified for the ballot through the petition process, and Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner is awaiting confirmation that the petition he submitted contains enough valid signatures. 

Lamborn was first elected to the U.S. House in 2006. The 5th District is centered on Colorado Springs and historically leans Republican.

Democratic assemblies for Colorado’s other seven congressional districts are scheduled to take place Thursday.