Election 2018Hot SheetLegislature

Ken Salazar endorses Ashley Wheeland in House District 9 Democratic primary

Author: Ernest Luning - February 28, 2018 - Updated: February 28, 2018

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In this file photo, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar awaits the start of a rally in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Feb. 25, 2016, in Denver's Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)In this file photo, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar awaits the start of a rally in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in February 2016, in Denver’s Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week endorsed Ashley Wheeland, one of two Democrats running in a primary against state Rep. Paul Rosenthal in southeast Denver’s House District 9.

“I have known Ashley since she began her career in policy in our state — working for me in my United States Senate office,” said Salazar, a former U.S. senator and Colorado attorney general, in a statement. “She worked on the issues she continues to champion — health care, education and civil rights. Ashley listened and worked with my constituents every day, and she provided me the information I needed to make decisions about the best policies for Colorado. I am proud of the work she has continued to do and I believe she will make a strong member of the Colorado Legislature.”

Wheeland, who worked on Salazar’s 2004 Senate campaign and as a policy aide for the Democrat for several years after he was elected, welcomed the endorsement.

“He knows how much I care about Colorado,” she said in a statement. “I learned from him how to help our communities and state through policymaking. I have not stopped fighting for better policies for our state since.”

Wheeland, an attorney, has since worked with LGBT-advocacy organization One Colorado and as the policy and political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Rosenthal, serving his third term in the House, is also facing a primary challenge from Emily Sirota, an educator and one-time candidate for the Denver school board. So far, no Republican has filed to run in the district, which leans Democratic.

Precinct caucuses are March 6 and the primary election is June 26.

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.