Democrats Jessie Danielson, Monica Duran set sights on Jeffco statehouse seats

Author: Ernest Luning - May 30, 2017 - Updated: December 29, 2017

House Speaker Pro Tem Jessie Danielson announced on Wednesday she’s running in next year’s election for the Senate District 20 seat held by term-limited state Sen. Cheri Jahn, a fellow Wheat Ridge Democrat, and Wheat Ridge City Councilwoman Monica Duran, also a Democrat, said on Friday she’s launching a bid for Danielson’s House District 24 seat with the support of the incumbent.

Both Jefferson County seats are considered potential swing seats and are nearly certain to be targeted by both parties in 2018.

“Serving Jeffco in the State House has been a tremendous honor — and I am proud to have passed laws that are protecting vulnerable seniors, advancing equal pay, looking out for veterans, protecting our environment and helping Colorado families get a fair shake when the odds are often stacked against us,” Danielson said in an email announcing her run.

Arvada Republican Christine Jensen filed to run for the Senate District 20 seat in February. So far, Duran is the only candidate in House District 24.

“I’ve known what it means to be a woman struggling to put food on her family’s table,” said Duran in a statement. “I am running for state representative because we need leaders who will work to level the playing field so that more working families in Colorado are able to build secure futures — when so many are living paycheck-to-paycheck.”

Danielson endorsed Duran out of the gate, calling her “a tireless champion for her community and our progressive values.”

“She knows the challenges working families face day-to-day, because she has lived them,” Danielson said in a statement. “As a domestic abuse survivor, Monica will be able to give voice to all too many voiceless women.”

House Speaker Crisanta Duran — no relation — also endorsed Duran.

“What Monica Duran has done for her community speaks volumes,” said the speaker, a Denver Democrat. “It shows us that she will be a leader who will fight for her district and protect Colorado for future generations.”

Danielson touted her role in successful legislation that legalizes rain barrels, helps pay for child care and makes “wage theft” violations by employers subject to open records requests.

Prior to winning election to the House in 2014, Danielson was Colorado state director for America Votes and played a part in passing 2013 legislation that overhauled how Coloradans can register and vote.

Before her election to city council, Duran was an elected member of the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection Board. She’s also been a member of the Jefferson Center for Mental Health board, the Wheat Ridge Planning Commission and the Wheat Ridge Carnation Festival board. She was also a member of the first class of Emerge Colorado, an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.

Jahn’s Senate District 20 seat is one of five likely to be in play statewide in 2018, when Republicans will attempt to keep or expand the one-seat majority they’ve enjoyed after the past two elections and 17 of the chamber’s 35 seats will be on the ballot.

Two of the other potential swing seats are based in Jefferson County — Senate District 22, held by term-limited state Sen. Andy Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat who is running for Congress next year, and Senate District 16, held by state Sen. Tim Neville, a Littleton Republican. (Neville’s district also includes portions of Boulder, Gilpin and Denver counties.)

Senate District 24 in Adams County, where state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, a Thornton Republican, is facing a challenge from the Democrat who wins a primary between state Rep. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat, and Thornton City Councilman Adam Matkowsky, is another likely battleground. So is Senate District 5, which covers seven counties on the Western Slope and Arkansas Valley and is represented by state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.