A Solidly Blue District is Now Competitive: Erik Aadland and Brittany Pettersen Compete for Colorado’s 7th District

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On Nov. 8, voters in Colorado have a choice to make. They can elect political newcomer Erik Aadland, a Republican, or vote for State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-CD22) to represent Colorado’s 7th district in Congress.

Indeed, 2021 redistricting, plus the retiring of long-time Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, made what was once a solidly blue district competitive. That’s drawn the nation’s eyes as political hawks wonder, “will it flip from blue to red?”

Republicans need to flip a net of five seats to gain control of the House, but conversely, Democrats only need to hold that same number to retain power. As such, races like CD7 are high-stakes for Republicans and Democrats.

Aadland Versus Pettersen

On June 28, Colorado voters took to the polls in the state’s primary election to choose a candidate for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.

Republicans chose Aadland, who received 48 percent of the vote, defeating Tim Reichert (36 percent), and Laurel Imer (16 percent).

Pettersen did not have a primary challenger, guaranteeing her spot as the Democrat nominee for the November general election.

Now, Aadland and Pettersen are battling each other with opposing policies and ideas on how best to represent CD7.

Republican candidate Erik Aadland. (Courtesy of Erik Aadland for Congress)

While Aadland may be a political newcomer, that doesn’t mean he’s inexperienced with serving people. Aadland was born into an Army family, the son of Major General (Ret) Anders and Sandra Aadland. Moving more than 21 times, Aadland saw the world and decided that he, too, wanted to serve his country.

In 2002, Aadland graduated from West Point and began his career as an Army officer. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and received two Bronze Stars for his service. He said his experiences as a soldier would inform how he serves if elected to Congress.

“I’m focused on service to the nation, just as I was when I swore an oath as an Army officer upon graduation from West Point. I will serve the people of Colorado by upholding Constitutional principles,” Aadland told The Epoch Times.  

In contrast, Pettersen was born in Colorado and has lived in Jefferson Country for almost her entire life. According to her campaign website, watching her mother deal with an addiction to  prescription drugs shaped her childhood.

She says that despite the challenges she faced at home, access to “great public schools and teachers that believed in me” led her to become the first member of her family to graduate from both high school and college. Upon graduating, Pettersen began her service to Colorado as a state legislator.

Policy Differences

Both Aadland and Pettersen view the 2022 race as defining for the nation, but for vastly different reasons.

Aadland believes a corrupt establishment imperils the future of the United States, and in his view, the “best government” stays out of the way of its citizenry. He plans to pursue policy to “make that a reality.”

“Coloradans need to know that their representative does not view the federal government as a social experiment meant to micromanage their lives, nor do they view the Constitution as an inconvenience,” he told The Epoch Times.

Once he reaches DC, he plans to ensure that Congress is adhering to the Constitution and push back against the “radical leftist agendas of social engineering and limited opportunity for the politically disfavored.”

Conversely, Pettersen says income inequality and the climate crisis are “threatening the very fabric of our democracy” and proposes government action as the solution. According to her website, she plans to introduce legislation to deal with those problems.

Additionally, Pettersen lists “dangerous conspiracy theorists” as something she believes the government should address. She does not define “dangerous conspiracy theorists,” nor did she respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Regarding policy priorities, Aadland puts protecting the Southern Border high on his list. Specifically, Aadland told The Epoch Times he wants the United States to “follow the laws and ideas that have already proven successful.”

Epoch Times Photo
Erik Aadland (L) shakes hands with President George W. Bush (C) at his 2002 USMA graduation at West Point. (Courtesy of Erik Aadland for Congress)

“Finish the wall. Reinstate the stay-in-Mexico policy. Put America first in our relations with Mexico and Central American countries.”

Plus, Aadland wants to “tie trade and aid to actions taken to end the power of cartels,” expand funding and support for border patrol, and immediately deport illegal immigrants convicted of a felony—regardless of whether it is their first offense.

Finally, Aadland wants federal and state agencies to cooperate and end “sanctuary cities.”

Pettersen doesn’t list the Southern border as a priority on her campaign website or explain how she would handle immigration. However, on Sept. 8, 2021, she was one of three dozen Colorado officials, along with 700 Democratic policymakers across the country, to sign a letter urging the Biden administration to loosen immigration rules.

Pettersen also doesn’t list on her website her position on hot-topic issues like defunding the police or abortion and didn’t respond when The Epoch Times sought comments.

However, Aadland believes Pettersen will be a “reliable vote” for her “radical friends” in Congress if elected. He lists Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), “the Squad,” and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as those to whom Pettersen will defer.

Thus, if Ocasio-Cortez wants to open the Southern border, defund the police, or expand abortion access, Aadland believes Pettersen will support that initiative instead of putting Coloradans’ safety and needs first. He contrasts that with how he would behave if elected to Congress.

“The attempts to ‘defund the police’ are appalling to me.”

“Soft-on-crime policies such as no-cash bail, significant sentence reduction … I will stand against any diversion of federal dollars intended to dismantle police forces or implement socialist ideas in the justice system.

“I will speak out against abortion and the taking of human life. It’s important to remind everyone that at the conclusion of an abortion a human being is intentionally killed.”

Aadland agrees with the Supreme Court’s recent decision that abortion is a state issue.

Colorado’s 7th District

Before 2021 redistricting, CD7 encompassed portions of Adams, Jefferson, and Arapahoe counties. Now it borders Broomfield County in the north, Chaffee and Lake in the west, and Custer County in the South.

That means CD7 now includes Park, Fremont, and Teller counties, all of which have higher active Republican voters than active Democratic voters, according to 2022 Voter Registration Statistics.

Epoch Times Photo
Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions’ final approved plan for Colorado District 8, Sep. 28, 2021. (Colorado Independent Commission)

Pointedly, according to July’s 2022 active voter registration statistics, there are 139,395 Democrats in CD7, 124,977 Republicans, and 229,382 unaffiliated voters, making CD7 a much closer race than in previous years.

In February 2021, before redistricting, CD7 had 168,543 active Democratic voters, 111,297 active Republicans, and 223,618 active unaffiliated voters.

Katie Spence

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Katie covers energy and politics for The Epoch Times. Before starting her career as a journalist, Katie proudly served in the Air Force as an Airborne Operations Technician on JSTARS. She obtained her degree in Analytic Philosophy and a minor in Cognitive Studies from the University of Colorado. Katie’s writing has appeared on CNSNews.com, The Maverick Observer, The Motley Fool, First Quarter Finance, The Cheat Sheet, and Investing.com. Email her at katie.spence@epochtimes.us