Democrats could face primary to replace Senate Democratic Leader Lucia Guzman

Author: Peter Marcus - August 29, 2017 - Updated: September 11, 2017

Sen. Lucia GuzmanSen. Lucia Guzman

Democrats could be facing a primary to replace Senate Democratic Leader Lucia Guzman in north and west Denver.

Rep. Dan Pabon says he is likely to make an official announcement in the fall, and immigrant rights leader Julie Gonzales is also seriously considering a run.

Some have wondered why Pabon has yet to announce his candidacy, as many assumed that he would be the likely successor to the traditionally Hispanic seat. Pabon said he wanted to give voters some time away from politics in Senate District 34.

“I’d like to give folks a little break as they take their kids back to school,” Pabon told Colorado Politics. “I think in the fall we make a go for it.”

Pabon, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said he is “99 percent there.”

The slower timing of his announcement has caused some in the district to wonder whether Pabon would run for the seat. Several in the community approached Gonzales, asking her to jump into the race, she said.

Gonzales said she began to seriously consider the opportunity.

“I’ve lived in this district for a decade, and I’ve organized in this district for over a decade, and there’s lots of different issues that are facing this community and Colorado at large,” Gonzales said, who serves as policy director for the Denver-based Meyer Law Office, which specializes in immigration law.

“It’s a really fascinating conversation and that’s humbling to even be thinking about,” Gonzales continued. “I welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with voters about who is best suited to listen, serve, and fight for the interests of the constituents of the district.”

Guzman is term limited after next year.

Already filed to run in the race is a relatively unknown candidate, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer.

Pabon, who served five years in House leadership – including roles as speaker pro tempore and assistant majority leader – said he believes he would emerge as the strongest candidate.

“I’ve lived in this district my whole life and now I’m raising my family there,” Pabon said. “It’s the greatest place in the world to live and it deserves the strongest representation possible.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated to fix an error in the headline that identified Sen. Lucia Guzman as the majority leader. She is the minority leader. 

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus is senior statehouse reporter for Colorado Politics. He covers the legislature and previously covered politics, the governor’s office, the legislature and Congress for The Durango Herald. He joined The Herald in 2014 from The Colorado Statesman, a Denver-based political weekly. The Washington Post twice named Marcus one of the nation’s top state-based political and legislative reporters.