Congratulations Colorado Congressmember- Elect Dr. Yadira Caraveo— A Strong Addition to Growing Latino Political Power November 17, 2022
Can you believe it? It took more than one week from the 11/08/2022 midterm elections to determine which party would end up controlling which congressional chamber in the 2023 118th Congress. With Catherine Cortez Masto’s (CCM’s) winning her Senate race in Nevada on 11/12/2022, we can happily say, “What Happens in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas.” CCM’s win give Senate Democrats a 50-49 edge over the GOP. However, the Senate results are still not final. Since neither candidate hit the 50% mark, there will be a 12/06/2022 runoff in GA between Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and GOP former football player Herschel Walker, far from the “sharpest knife in the drawer.” If Warnock wins, “Team Blue” will have a 51-49 edge. VP Kamala Harris will not then have to break any tie votes However, if Walker wins, the Dems will remain in the 50-50 situation they had when Biden was inaugurated in 2021 and Harris will still be breaking ties. In addition, should Warnock win, the ability of Senators Joe Manchin (D- WVA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to thwart President Biden’s progressive programs will be greatly diminished. Democrats and moderates in the Peach State must, therefore, come out in droves plus to defeat Walker. Rev. Warnock and GA Democrats are no strangers to runoffs. Rev. Warnock, the former pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, defeated GOPer Kelly Loeffler in a 2021 runoff to fill out the remainder of retiring Republican Johnny Isakson’s term. Warnock is now running for a six-year term of his own.
In the House, “Team Red,” was declared the winner on 11/16/2022 (cnn.com, nytimes.com). Despite most of the media’s initial analysis of a Democratic “massacre,” the GOP will have a very small margin to work with. In one of the biggest House upsets, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a “blue collar” Democrat who ran a garage with her husband, upset extremist/bigot sympathizer and Trump-endorsed Joe Kent in the Washington State 3rd Congressional District (CD). Gleusenkamp Perez has been compared to rough-hewn John Fetterman who won his Senate race in PA’s Keystone State (See latimes.com, AP Johnson, 11/12/22). In Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District, Democrat Andrea Salinas defeated GOPer Mike Erickson (kgw.com, 11/14/22). Unfortunately, at least 18 GOP candidates for governor and Senator, who pushed Demagogue Donald’s lie that he lost in 2020 because Biden and his fellow Democrats stole the election, won races for governor and U.S. Senator. However, most of them were incumbents in “Red “ states, and none of them won contests in states expected to be presidential battlegrounds in 2024 (cnn.com, Dale, 11/12/22). In this group that aggressively pushed Trump’s “election denial” nonsense and lost, were gubernatorial nominees Doug Mastriano in PA, Tudor Dixon in MI, secretary of state nominees Mark Finchem in AZ, Jim Marchant in NV, and Kristina Karamo in MI. In the NV, U.S. Senate race,Catherine Cortez Masto defeated GOP election denier Adam Laxalt (cnn.com, Dale, 11/12/22). And in AZ, Democrat Katie Hobbs has been declared the winner of the gubernatorial race over “Team Red’s” Kari Lake. Lake put “election denial” at the center of her campaign and called for Hobbs and unspecified journalists to “be imprisoned over their handling” of the 2020 election (ddale8, 11/14/22, 6:17 PM, MSNBC, Hayes, C., 11/14/22). In this 2022 midterm, Democrats flipped both chambers of the MI state legislature, for the first time since the 1980’s. Democrats flipped the MN Senate for the first time in years. With “Team Blue” governors in these two states, Democrats now have trifectas in MI, MN, MA, and CA. They also protected crucial veto power for Democratic Governors Tony Evers in WI and Roy Cooper in N. Carolina where they can preserve voting rights and abortion access. “Team Blue” successfully defended Democratic state majorities in CO, ME, and N. Mexico that GOPers thought they could threaten. Those states also have “Blue” trifectas (See dlcc.org, 11/09/22, Post, J.). Unfortunately, in CA’s 48th Congressional District (CD), GOPer Michelle Steel won re-election to a second term against fellow Asian-American Jay Chen. Steel attacked Chen as being “soft on Communist China,” the old 1950’s Joe McCarthy “Red-baiting” charge. The 48th CD, remember, has many Vietnamese-American refugees (latimes.com, 11/14/22, Mehta). Now, let’s look at a Democratic House victory in Colorado’s 8th CD where Yadira Caraveo won her first term and can help the House Democratic minority.
Yadira Caraveo will be the first representative of CO’s 8th CD in the 118th Congress. She will be CO’s first Latina member of Congress (aldianews.com). The 8th CO CD is located north of Denver and stretches along Interstate 25. The CO 8th is a new congressional district that was drawn by the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission. The CO 8th constitutes the first congressional seat to be added in that state since 2001 because of increasing population (gazette.com, Wyloge, E., 4/26/21, nbcnews.conm, Acevedo, N., 11/13/22). The 8th CD incudes sections of Adams, Larimer, and Weld Counties. The largest population areas in the CO 8th are in Brighton, Commerce City, Greeley, Johnstown, Northglenn, and Thornton (coleg.maps.arcgis.com, 9/28/21). The CO 8th CD has the largest number of Hispanic residents in any of the Centennial State’s congressional districts, 38.5% of the adult population (kdvr.com, 9/29/21, Summers, DJ). Politically, the 8th CD is viewed as competitive. The Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index) rates the CO 8th as EVEN between Democrats and Republicans (cookpolitical.com). The Democrats hold a 3% lead in active registered voters there. In eight statewide elections held between 2016 and 2020, Democrats achieved an average 1.3% margin of victory (denverpost.com, Friednash, D., 11/16/21). In the 2020 presidential contest, Biden won the area now in the 8th CD by just a 4.7% margin (politico.com). Most national analysts considered the CO 8th fully up for grabs, if not slightly leaning toward the GOP (coloradosun.com, Paul & Fish, 11/09/22).
CO native Caraveo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1970’s. She graduated with a BS from Regis University and received an MD degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. She did her residency in pediatrics at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. While in New Mexico, she became active with the Committee of Interns and Residents union for resident physicians (denverpost.com, 10/10/2018, medpagetoday.com, Frieden, J., 1/01/22). During medical school, she volunteered for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign (Jordan & Balz, 11/02/18, washingtonpost.com). Caraveo was elected in 2018 to the CO House of Representatives from the 31st District. While a state legislator, she practiced as a pediatrician in Thornton, CO (denverpost.com, 10/10/18). In the state legislature, Caraveo was Vice Chair of the Health & Insurance Committee and served on the Education Committee. Caraveo was a strong defender of abortion rights and voted for police accountability following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd (Bedayn, apnews.com). In the CO House, Caraveo sponsored a bill giving free contraceptives and reproductive care to undocumented immigrants, because such a program would lower maternal and infant mortality (apnews.com, Nieberg, P., 5/26/21). She sponsored a bill that would put age requirements on some cannabis products (cpr.corg, 4/27/21, Birkeland, B., 4/27/21).
When Caraveo (41) ran for the U.S. House in Campaign 2022, she faced GOPer Barbara Kirkmeyer (64) in the general election. Kirkmeyer was a member of the CO State Senate and previously was a Weld County Commissioner (google.com). Her campaign stressed familiar GOP themes, including “getting tough on crime.” Kirkmeyer pushed for “unleashing the oil and gas industry,” which has a significant presence in the CO 8th. Kirkmeyer once supported a blanket ban on abortion, but recently stated she would “respect exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger (apnews.com, Bedayan).” Translation: An election flip-flop to make her more palatable among pro-choice voters.
GOPer Kirkmeyer received at least $10.2 million in support from Republican groups, compared to only $6.4 million for Caraveo from Democratic groups. However, Caraveo’s campaign on its own was able to raise $2.6 million v. Kirkmeyer’s $1.2 million through 10/19/22. Caraveo pushed messages about fighting the high costs of health care, getting a good education for children, and supporting abortion rights. She aimed at attracting the support of working-class families like the one she grew up in (coloradosun.com, Paul & Fish, 11/09/22). In her congressional race, Caraveo campaigned hard. She stated her campaign knocked on 295,000 doors, made 225,00 phone calls, and sent over 340,000 text messages to voters. She called it especially important to get out Latino voters in the C0 8th. Caraveo speaks Spanish and concentrated her efforts in the Spanish-speaking areas of the 8th, especially Commerce City and Greeley (coloradosun.com, Paul & Fish, 11/09/22). Latino voters proved instrumental in Caraveo’s close victory over Kirkmeyer. With 99% of the votes counted, Caraveo defeated Kirkmeyer 48.4 %- 47.7 % (google.com) and the Associated Press declared Caraveo the winner (google.com). NBC News Decision Desk also called this race for Caraveo. Caraveo’s win was a political upset, because until the election, she had always been trailing in polling (coloradosun.com, Paul & Fish, 11/09/22). Despite all the GOP’s talk about Latinos “abandoning” Democrats, that was not the case in CO. In the CO 8th, Caraveo took 75% of votes cast by Latinos, which proved instrumental for her in that close race. In CO, 70% of Latinos voted for U.S. Dem. Senator Michael Bennet. In the 8th CD, besides giving Caraveo her victory, Latinos gave Bennet 73% of their vote (denverpost.com, Aguilar, J., 11/10/22). After the 11/2022 midterm, Latinas, including, NV’s Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Cong.-elect Caraveo ,will be sending a strong contingent of lawmakers to the 118th Congress, which will convene in 1/2023. Eight Democrats and four GOP Latinas are already projected to win seats in the House, and all but two Latinas were leading against their opponents as of 11/09/22. And a majority of Latinas in Congress will continue to be Democrats (americanindpendent.com, Barclay, 11/11/22).
GOPer Kirkmeyer has conceded to Caraveo. In a post-election statement, Rep.-elect Caraveo could not have said it better. She stated, “In many ways, the story of my family is the story of this district—my parents immigrated here to afford us a better life. And because of their hard work, I was able to go to college, become a doctor, and live my version of the American Dream. But for too many people in Colorado, that dream has slipped out of reach. Our district deserves a leader who will fight to restore access to the American Dream for working families—a leader who will not side with wealthy donors and special interests.” She added, “It’s the honor of my lifetime to receive this vote of confidence to serve working families from Greeley to Commerce City in Washington, D.C. I Iook forward to doing the hard work to fight for working families across every part of the 8th Congressional District (coloradosun.com, Paul & Fish, 11/09/22).”
We can learn much from Caraveo’s upset victory. First, to quote the late John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, JFK’s maternal grandfather, “The only poll that counts is the one taken on Election Day.” Second, our candidates must never despair because GOPers and media hype tell us we are “doomed, doomed, doomed.” Third, our candidates must work hard to raise money and do “good old fashioned” door knocking, phone calling, and messaging to voters. Finally, remember, remember, remember, turnout is EVERYTHING! We must never take any groups for granted and we must make sure they come out for us “big time.” Again, congratulations, Congressmember-elect Yadira Caraveo!