Long-Time Incumbent Faces Challengers in Congressional District 1 Race

By Talia Traskos-Hart

Congresswoman Diana DeGette is running for her 14th term representing Denver’s Congressional District 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Having held this seat for 22 years, DeGette is now the longest-serving member of the Colorado delegation in Washington, D.C.

Diana DeGette

Her record includes serving as a member of the impeachment team for former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment and working on the committees for Energy and Commerce and National Resources. In a statement to The G.E.S. Gazette, DeGette emphasized her ongoing commitment to addressing her constituents’ most pressing concerns.

“I have been an advocate for the people of Denver and Colorado my entire career, and my focus is always the same: to represent the values of my constituents and serve them to the best of my ability,” DeGette wrote.

Still, her challengers—a republican, a libertarian, and a write-in unaffiliated candidate— have hoped to raise attention to their policy priorities and get to know the world of Denver politics over the past few months on the campaign trail.

GOP nominee Jennifer Qualteri was the sole republican who ran in the primary. Qualteri was born in Congressional District 1 and has lived in or near the district for the past two decades. Qualteri said over the course of this race, she has come to recognize the barriers to winning as a republican candidate in this district.

Jennifer Qualteri

“I know it’s only been a red district a couple of times since 1935,” she said. “But what’s good is you can bring up issues that eventually are looked at because you’re somewhat in a position of competing for the public’s attention. It’s a blue district, but so what? You get to talk about policies.”

According to a blog Qualteri posts, she is an advocate for making schools safer with more security measures. She’s also a proponent of revising social security distributions that would benefit people who are working past the age of 65 and she would measures by sponsor a Social Security Fairness Act bill.

Qualteri noted that she has collaborated with other members of the Colorado Republican Party over the uncontested primary process and throughout the fall.

“The Colorado GOP has done a really good job making us collaborators,” she said.

Qualteri identified her main policy priorities as dealing with the rising rates of crime and inflation. Qualteri hopes that Congress will do more to provide alternative forms of rehabilitation for drug users, including expanded mental health resources.

John C. Kittleson, who is in this race as the libertarian candidate, decided to run after becoming frustrated with the polarization he sees on both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C. He wanted to bring issues of education to the forefront in his campaign.

John C. Kittleson

As an alumnus of the Cherry Creek Public Schools system, Kittleson noted his hope that education in cities like Denver could be better funded and more equitable.

“The fundamental (topic) of my platform is education,” he explained. “Nothing is a better indicator of a child’s future than the education they receive.”

Iris Boswell, who is running as an unaffiliated write-in, noted that her main goal in running was to gain familiarity with running a political campaign.

“It’s been my experience that there’s a lot of obstacles to running for office for regular people who don’t know what they’re doing,” she observed. “For myself, I sort of saw this as a testing ground to learn about this process, and then run again with this under my belt.”

Boswell decided to run this summer after the Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which reversed its earlier ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Iris Boswell

“The Supreme Court is really in a position to legislate on the bench,” Boswell said. “My primary policy priority would be reforming this.”

DeGette herself has been outspoken about reproductive rights. Most recently, she has worked to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guarantee all Americans the right to access to abortion care no matter where they live. DeGette wrote that reproductive care will remain one of her foremost priorities over her next term.

“Right now, my top priorities are promoting access to quality health care, including the full range of women’s reproductive care, preserving civil rights for all communities, passing comprehensive immigration reform, and promoting environmental justice and fighting climate change,” she wrote. “I look forward to continuing talking with voters about my record of accomplishment and fighting to bring important resources to the district.”

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