Tom Sullivan, father of Aurora theater shooting victim, jumps into state Senate District 27 race


AURORA | Three and a half years after his son was one of 12 people gunned down by James Holmes in an Aurora movie theater, and after several years lobbying state lawmakers on gun safety measures, Tom Sullivan announced Tuesday, Feb. 23, he is running for the state Senate.

In an announcement at Silo Park in Greenwood Village, Sullivan — a Democrat from Centennial — said he will seek the Senate District 27 seat this fall against Republican Jack Tate, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year after Republican David Balmer stepped down.

Tate did not immediately return a message left at his Capitol office.

Sullivan, a retired postal worker and Air Force veteran, said even before his son’s murder that he planned to be more active in politics after retirement, but his time spent at the Capitol in recent years made him want to take on an even more-active role.

“I realized I had a voice, and it was being heard,” Sullivan said.

The district leans Republican and includes particularly conservative portions of Arapahoe County, where Democrats tend to struggle. No other Democrat has indicated an interest in the race, and so far, Tate will not face a primary race for the seat.

But, Sullivan said, because this is a presidential election year, he is banking on a higher turnout from Democrats and his longstanding connections in the community where he has lived for 25 years and where he and his wife raised their two children.

Sullivan said his focus will be issues important to middle-class families, including making sure other parents enjoy the paid parental leave he did as a postal worker and that parents can count on high-achieving schools like those in the Cherry Creek School District his two children attended.

Sullivan said he has always strived to make his family proud of him, and he thinks this run for office will do that.

Sullivan also launched a campaign website,, and a campaign video (see below). For more on the race, visit Sullivan’s Facebook page, Sen. Jack Tate’s website and Tate’s Facebook page.