DeGette reaches out to new constituents

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By Greg Romberg

When I first heard that Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, would announce her bid to be re-elected to Congress from the 1st Congressional District at the Columbine Library, my first thought was, “I thought that library in Cherry Creek was on Milwaukee, not Columbine.”
As it turned out, I was right — there is no Denver library on Columbine Street. DeGette, who has represented Denver in Congress since 1997, chose to announce her re-election plans from the newest part of her district, the part in South Jeffco around Columbine and Ken Caryl.
When Judge Robert Hyatt picked the congressional maps under which Colorado will operate for the next 10 years in November, some of the biggest changes involved the parts of Jefferson County that are currently within Republican Mike Coffman’s 6th Congressional District. In addition to DeGette picking up Columbine and Ken Caryl, Evergreen, Conifer and most of the rest of the county that Coffman represents moves to the 2nd District, which is currently represented by Boulder Democrat Jared Polis.
DeGette’s decision to announce her plans in Jefferson County are a welcome sign that she is eager to reach out to her potential new constituents. While the new district is still dominated by Denver and has a huge Democratic registration advantage (45.4 percent Democrat, 19.9 percent Republican, 36.6 percent unaffiliated), the fact that DeGette made her first formal action related to representing the new district in Jefferson County shows that she is interested in getting to know the constituents and interests of the newest parts of her district.
The voters who live in the parts of Jefferson County that are now in the 2nd District are also a small percentage of the total electorate. Boulder and Larimer counties dominate the new district. While the registration in the 2nd looks competitive (33.1 percent Democrat, 28.7 percent Republican, 37.2 percent unaffiliated), Polis will be favored to hold the seat. He will be challenged by state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a conservative Berthoud Republican who will be hard pressed to overcome Polis’ advantage in campaign resources (both self-funding and money raised from others) and the leanings of the district. Hopefully both Polis and Lundberg will reach out to Jeffco voters in the 2nd District, much as DeGette has done to open her campaign in the 1st.
As we adjust to new representation in Congress, it’s a good sign that DeGette came to Jefferson County to announce her re-election plans. Let’s hope it’s a precursor that Jeffco residents in both the 1st and 2nd districts will be beneficiaries of aggressive advocacy by their members of Congress for the next 10 years.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.