A key member of 6th District Democrat Levi Tillemann's campaign is gone. Campaign manager Juan Rodriguez left the team in early May to be closer to his family, campaign spokesman Joe Erlich says.
"Juan is a great guy who did a truly remarkable job navigating the caucusing process and getting Levi into the primary," Erlich says. "Ultimately, Juan just needed to be with his family in Fort Collins. We still work with Juan on the campaign's most important issues, subject to his availability of course."
Erlich told Westword on May 31 that Tillemann was acting as his own campaign manager. However Tillemann said today, June 1, that LeAnn Joswick replaced Rodriguez a month ago.
Tillemann's campaign has had fundraising issues that will probably hurt voter outreach, particularly with unaffiliateds now able to participate in Colorado primaries for the first time. That said, after Tillemann's campaign released tapes in late April revealing national Democrats' preference for his primary rival, Jason Crow, NBC politics reporter Alex Seitz-Wald tweeted that Tillemann had seen an uptick in donations. Second-quarter fiscal numbers won't be released until June 6, so it's hard to tell if Tillemann's campaign has made a dent in Crow's sizable fundraising advantage. As of March 31, Crow held a nearly tenfold cash-on-hand advantage, with about $884,000 in the bank to Tillemann's $92,000.
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Potentially playing to Tillemann's advantage, however, is the fact that progressive candidates have scored early upsets in other primaries nationwide. Fellow Democrats Saira Rao (1st District) and Mark Williams (2nd) are posting competitive progressive in-state challenges as well.
Tillemann and Crow, a former Army Ranger who has never held elected office, are vying for the Democratic Party's nomination in this highly competitive district. With the release of the tapes, in particular, the primary has gotten increasingly nasty in the lead-up to June 26.
The winner of the primary in the 6th District, which mainly comprises Aurora along with other large chunks of both Adams and Arapahoe counties, will face Republican Representative Mike Coffman in this fall's general election. Coffman won re-election in 2016 by about 8 percent, despite the 6th preferring Hillary Clinton at the presidential level by nearly nine points. His is one of the 43 "red-to-blue" seats that national Democrats are targeting in order to retake control of the House of Representatives.
Tillemann is an ex-Obama administration Energy Department official, the grandson of Colorado's first female lieutenant governor, Nancy Dick, and the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, former California congressman Tom Lantos. We explained Tillemann's family tree in 2008.
Update: We've clarified when Rodriguez left the campaign and included his replacement.