Grand Junction Councilman Chris Kennedy drops out of 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary

Author: Ernest Luning - December 7, 2017 - Updated: December 8, 2017

Grand Junction Councilman Chris Kennedy (Courtesy photo)Grand Junction Councilman Chris Kennedy (Courtesy photo)

Grand Junction Councilman Chris Kennedy announced Wednesday that he’s withdrawing from the Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District seat held by Republican Scott Tipton.

Kennedy said in a Facebook post that family health issues will require his time and attention. He told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel that his mother has recently undergone heart surgery and suffered a stroke.

“To all those who have supported me during this process I am humbled by your generosity and selflessness and friendship,” Kennedy said. “I could not in good conscious continue this campaign knowing that I would not be able to devote 100 percent of my time and energy over the days and months ahead. You deserve no less than that from your next representative in Congress.” He added, “The fight is not over. We will prevail.”

Kennedy’s move leaves two Democrats in the race — former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs, who stepped down from her legislative seat in October, and Glenwood Springs city attorney Karl Hanlon, who declared his candidacy last week. Tipton, serving his fourth term, is so far the only Republican campaigning for the seat.

The 3rd District, which covers most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado, including the San Luis Valley and Pueblo County, leans Republican, but national Democratic groups have said they’re targeting the seat this cycle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said it will be spending to flip the district, and EMILY’s List, a national group that recruits and helps fund Democratic women candidates, said Tipton is one of the Republican incumbents it’s putting “on notice” in next year’s election.

After fending off a tea party challenger by a wide margin in last year’s primary, Tipton defeated former state Sen. Gail Schwartz, the Democratic nominee, by just over 14 points in the 2016 election.

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.