Election 2018LegislatureNews

State Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat, won’t run for state Senate seat

Author: Ernest Luning - January 5, 2018 - Updated: March 14, 2018

Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, at a Joint Center politics forum in 2015. (via Joint Center)Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, at a Joint Center politics forum in 2015. (via Joint Center)

Following months of speculation whether he would join a crowded Democratic primary for an open Denver state Senate seat, state Rep. Dan Pabon said Friday in an email to supporters that he’s decided against it.

“After a lot of thought and soul searching, I have decided not to run for that seat,” wrote Pabon, who is serving his fourth and final term representing House District 4, due to term limits. “It’s time for me to contribute in ways other than serving as an elected official. It’s what’s best for my family and me.”

Pabon told Colorado Politics in August he was considering a run for the seat held by term-limited Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and would make a decision “in due time.” Five other Democrats are running in the district, which is heavily Democratic: Julie Gonzales, the political director at an immigrant-rights law firm; Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, an attorney and captain in the Colorado Army National Guard; landscape architect Jonah Weiss; former English and debate teacher Jennifer Calderone; and attorney Edward “Milo” Schwab.

Pabon, an attorney, served as House speaker pro tem until soon after his July 2016 plea to driving drunk on the night of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2016, on the outskirts of downtown Denver.

After his DUI arrest and video of his interaction with police officers was released, Pabon drew a call for his resignation from the Denver Post Editorial Board because Pabon drew attention to his status as a state lawmaker while asking an officer to call higher-ups and if there was “any way we can avoid this possibility” of arrest.

Pabon was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to perform 56 hours of community service, as well as to attend alcohol treatment and education and to attend a victim impact panel — established by a bill Pabon had sponsored earlier that year.

Pabon also played a key role formulating regulations to implement Amendment 64, the voter-approved measure that legalized recreational marijuana, and sponsored a bill to establish a legal framework to allow ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in Colorado.

“Since 2011, I’ve supported over a thousand policies that make me proud to call myself a Coloradan,” he said in his email Friday.

Saying there “has been no greater honor than my service in the Colorado General Assembly,” Pabon recalled getting married to his wife, Heather, just 11 days after he won the primary election for his House seat in 2010. “She has only experienced our marriage with me as a candidate or elected official,” Pabon wrote, adding that two of his three children were born while he’s been in office and the third graduated high school and college during his terms.

He continued: “I’ve grown inside the Capitol building. You have seen my joys and you have seen my failures. Despite all the ups and downs and change, I’m more optimistic about our future than I ever have been. We have more involvement in the goings on of our city, state and country. Only by that momentum we will continue to pass the policies and elect the people who share our values.”

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.