Denver Democrat Robert Rodriguez announces run for term-limited Irene Aguilar's Senate District 32 seat - Colorado Politics

Denver Democrat Robert Rodriguez announces run for term-limited Irene Aguilar’s Senate District 32 seat

Author: Ernest Luning - June 19, 2017 - Updated: June 20, 2017

Denver Democrat Robert Rodriguez plans to launch his campaign for Senate District 32 held by term-limited state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy Robert Rodriguez)Denver Democrat Robert Rodriguez plans to launch his campaign for Senate District 32 held by term-limited state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy Robert Rodriguez)

Robert Rodriguez, a former official with the Denver Democratic Party, plans to launch his campaign this week for the Senate District 32 seat held by term-limited state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, with her endorsement.

“I believe in the right to a living wage and access to healthcare,” Rodriguez, 48, said in a statement. “I believe that every child has a right to a quality education, and that includes universal Pre-K and and a post-graduate plan that works for them. With the Trump Administration unraveling protections for working families, it’s time for Colorado to step up and lead in this uncertain time.”

A former vice chair of the Denver Democrats, Rodriguez outlined his platform in a letter sent last week to Denver precinct leaders. He wrote that he supports “economic justice and the right to a living wage,” treating health care as a right and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. “I believe that we only have one planet — and greed will kill it if we do not act quickly,” he added.

Aguilar, a physician and a key supporter of last year’s universal health care ballot proposal, told Colorado Politics she is throwing her full support behind Rodriguez.

“It is critical that we support candidates who will be the voice of the working class,” she said. “Robert has demonstrated his commitment to the betterment and empowerment of the people of this district, and I am proud to support his campaign for state Senate.”

Entrepreneur Zach Neumann, 32, an initial organizer of the statewide apprenticeship program CareerWise Colorado and a Democrat, announced he was running for the heavily Democratic seat in April. Activists Lance Wright and Peter Smith, both Democrats, have also filed to run in the district.

Rodriguez is director of business management at Independence House, facilities that provide substance-abuse and mental health counseling, employment support and housing for criminal offenders working to re-enter society. (The business was founded four decades ago by the candidate’s father, Colorado Democratic Party Deputy 2nd Vice Chair Mannie Rodriguez, a former Democratic national committeeman for Colorado.)

Rodriguez stressed economic issues in a statement about his campaign to Colorado Politics.

“If we don’t even the playing field for working Coloradans, then opportunities will exist only for the very privileged,” he said. “If we continue to widen the income gap, raise health care expenses for families and let our young people suffer under crushing student loan debt, then this won’t be the same country that my father — who grew up in poverty, picking vegetables in New Mexico — was able to succeed in.”

“I am running for office because I know that if we don’t act now and with urgency, the American Dream will be lost.”

Rodriguez plans to kick off his campaign with a happy hour starting at 5:30 p.m. and a campaign event featuring Aguilar at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at Declaration Brewing at 2030 S Cherokee St. in Denver.

Senate District 32 covers much of south-central Denver and is consistently one of the highest-performing seats for Democratic candidates in the state. According to the most recent voter registration figures from the Colorado secretary of state, 45.6 percent of the active voters are Democrats, 35 percent are unaffiliated and just 17.4 percent are Republicans.

Aguilar prevailed over Republican nominee Dawne Murray with 64.3 percent of the vote in 2014. She won with 70.1 percent of the vote in 2012, defeating Republican Roger Logan. Aguilar was appointed to the seat by a vacancy committee to fill Chris Romer’s term in late 2010 after he stepped down to mount an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Denver.


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. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


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