AURORA| Democrat Jason Crow has picked up a major endorsement in his bid to win the right to challenge Republican Rep. Mike Coffman for Aurora’s 6th Congressional District in 2018.

Former Sen. Mark Udall announced his support for the new Democrat, Crow, in his first bid for elected office. Crow is one of three Democrats that have officially announce bids for the party’s nomination to challenge Coffman, though there is speculation more Democrats could throw their hat into the ring before primary season begins next year. David Aarestad and Gabriel McArthur have also recently announced bids for the Democratic nomination. 

“As an Army combat veteran, community servant and family man with deep Colorado roots, Jason Crow understands our special way of life and what it means to make a difference for Colorado,” Udall said in his endorsement announcement. “We’ve gotten to know Jason as a father, a friend, and a local leader, and he truly fits the mold of a passionate public servant. Colorado needs representatives in Washington who will put our communities first, and I know Jason will be a true champion for Colorado families and the strongest candidate to unseat Congressman Coffman.”

While Udall lost his bid to now Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 by about 50,000 votes statewide, he did beat Gardner in Arapahoe County by more than 3,000 votes. And his endorsement so far out from the election could be an attempt by Crow to secure the nomination before the race gets crowded by other Democrats vying for the spot against Coffman.

“Mark Udall is the epitome of public service and what it means to put Colorado families first. It’s clear that’s the kind of leadership we’re missing in Washington from Mike Coffman, who over and over again has put his own career above the needs of Colorado’s communities,” Crow said in the announcement. “As a veteran and a father, I know what it means to put our country first and to serve others before yourself, and as I speak with folks across the district, it’s clear our communities are ready for new leadership.”

A previous version of this article identified Jason Crow as the only Democratic candidate in the race.