Meet the two candidates running to represent Colorado's newest congressional district

Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer and Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo
Posted at 7:24 PM, Oct 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-03 21:24:22-04

THORNTON, Colo. — Colorado’s newest congressional district has quickly become one of the most hotly contested in the state. Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer and Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo are facing off to become the first to represent Colorado's 8th Congressional District.

The candidates could not be more different from one another on their political stances when it comes to energy, abortion, government spending and more. Denver7 pressed both candidates on these issues.

Get to know the candidates

Kirkmeyer is a fourth-generation Coloradan who grew up in what she describes as a modest background on a dairy farm. From an early age, Kirkmeyer says she learned the value of money when her parents didn’t give her a calf for her 4-H program but made her pay them $100 for it.

She owned a dairy farm in Weld County for years and served as a county commissioner for two decades before running for the state legislature in 2020. During her two years in the legislature, Kirkmeyer sponsored bills for special education funding, public school turnarounds, displaced workers grants, oil and gas setbacks and more.

Full interview: 8th Congressional District Republican candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer

Caraveo is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1970s. Her first language was Spanish. Caraveo’s father worked on a construction site to help send his four children to college.

She is a pediatrician and worked in a community in Adams County where 65% of her patients were on Medicaid, which initially helped propel her into politics. Caraveo was first elected to the state legislature in 2018. During her time, she has sponsored bills for more oversight on the use of chemicals in oil and gas operations, paid family leave, the use of chemical restraints on people, multilingual ballot access, nicotine taxes, flavor tobacco bans and more.

Full interview: 8th Congressional District Democratic candidate Yadira Caraveo

Election Integrity

Both candidates believe that President Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.

Kirkmeyer told Denver7 Colorado has been doing mail-in ballots for more than decade, and as a county commissioner, she worked to make sure the election process was funded. She said she has faith in county clerks, but believes there are areas where the state could improve, such as voter IDs, election judges and transparency. She said win or lose, she will accept the results of the midterm election.

Caraveo, meanwhile, supported Senate Bill 22-153 in the state legislature, which aimed to further protect Colorado’s elections in the wake of breaches in Mesa County and investigations into other possible breaches.

Kirkmeyer did not vote in favor of this law, saying the bill was an attack on Tina Peters and it moved some power away from county clerks and toward the secretary of state’s office.


Neither candidate said they support an all-out abortion ban federally. However, Kirkmeyer does believes there should be limits.

“I have come out stating that I am in support the 15-week ban. So after 15 weeks, that abortion would be banned,” Kirkmeyer said.

Kirkmeyer said she would support a federal abortion ban at 15 weeks, but said this is not a topic she is hearing about from constituents when she is going door-to-door in the district and talking to voters. When pressed on the topic, Kirkmeyer said she would support an exception for the life of the mother after 15 weeks.

Caraveo, on the other hand, said she supports a woman’s right to choose what is best for her. She was one of the Democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Equity Act this year in the state legislature to codify abortion access into state law.

“I think that these issues are healthcare decisions. Nobody wants the government or other entities really meddling with their health care decisions. This is something that's between women and their doctors,” Caraveo said.

Unlike Kirkmeyer, Caraveo said this is a topic she is hearing about frequently in her conversations with voters and it’s something people are angry about and interested in.


Kirkmeyer believes a way to stop the fentanyl crisis in Colorado communities is to secure the southern border. She blames the Biden Administration for what she considers an open border policy and said she supports an approach to securing the border that includes a wall, technology and more support for border agents.

The U.S. did manage to seize more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl this year alone so far, but Kirkmeyer wonders how much is getting through that is not being detected. She also criticized Caraveo for her support in 2019 of a bipartisan law to lower the punishments for fentanyl possession to a misdemeanor.

“In my mind, it's essentially legalizing fentanyl when you take it from a misdemeanor, or take it from a felony and make it a misdemeanor slap on the wrist,” Kirkmeyer said.

The legislature passed a law this year to make one gram of fentanyl possession a felony, add more punishments for distributors and more resources for help. However, Kirkmeyer voted against the bill’s passage.

Caraveo did vote in favor of both the 2019 law and this year's law. When pressed on whether the 2019 law’s passage was a mistake, Caraveo said it was a learning experience.

“We make decisions in a bipartisan manner based on the information that we have and then we learn, right? And so we saw the fentanyl had come into our community, it was a problem and that we needed to keep criminals accountable,” Caraveo said.

However, she said she was proud to pass this year’s law and she was happy to increase resources in the community to combat addiction.

The Economy

Kirkmeyer squarely blames Democrats for the rise in inflation over the past year, saying poor policies have made things harder for families in Colorado.

During her time as a county commissioner, she said she was able to help lead her county to zero debt, lowered taxes and went after regulations on businesses.

On a federal level, Kirkmeyer said she wants to take a closer look at entitlement programs.

“I think we're going to have to look at certain entitlement programs and make sure that we are funding those folks that greatly need the programs versus maybe some of the folks who don't. There's a lot of areas, I think, in some of our human services programs that we need to look at,” she said.

Kirkmeyer has also called for the federal government to balance its budget and cut down on spending. She blames Democrats for the massive spending that has happened on a federal level in recent years.

When pressed on government spending under President Donald Trump, who contributed $7.8 trillion to the national debt, Kirkmeyer said she is committed to cutting back, whether it is a Democratic or Republican policy.

Caraveo, meanwhile, said she wants to see Congress focus on lowering costs for working families and lowering prescription drug prices, among other things.

“I think there's many ways that we have focused, here in Colorado, on issues of cost and that I would continue to focus on in Congress, one of them being supply chain issues,” Caraveo said. “There are so many different products that we rely on other countries to make that if we made them in the United States, we could close that gap in the supply chain and likely lower costs."

Caraveo would also like to see more done to address affordable housing, renters fees and making sure corporations pay their fair share.

When pressed on the role Democrats on a state and federal level play in inflation and government spending, Caraveo said her party has worked hard to lower costs for average citizens, and she doesn’t agree with the idea of placing blame on one party.

Denver7 asked Caraveo whether she would have supported the Inflation Reduction Act, which has been criticized by Republicans for massive spending.

“I think there were a lot of really great parts of the inflation Reduction Act, in particular, the focus on costs for families. You know, one with the energy issues that it focused on making sure that we're lowering the cost of energy,” Caraveo said.

She also supported the parts of the bill dealing with healthcare and allowing Medicare to negotiate medication prices.

The two candidates also spoke at length about the importance of Latino voices in their district and energy production.