DENVER (CBS4) – Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff wants to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner for the U.S. Senate. As part of the announcement of his Senate candidacy, Romanoff will step down as president and CEO of the nonprofit Mental Health Colorado.

Andrew Romanoff (credit: CBS)

Romanoff is the second high profile Colorado Democrat to join the fight for his party’s nomination for Senate. Mike Johnston, a Democrat who ran for governor in Colorado last year, jumped into the race last week.

Romanoff served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009 and as Speaker from 2005 to 2009. In 2010 he ran against Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet for Senate and lost in the primary and in 2014 he ran against Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District and lost.

Romanoff led Mental Health Colorado for the past four years. The group is Colorado’s “leading advocate for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.” He said in a news release Thursday announcing his campaign that health care issues would be major part of his message.

“I’ve met families all across Colorado, just like mine, who have been devastated by suicide or mental illness or drug addiction. I’ve met people discarded by insurance companies or wiped out by debt. We’ve seen our planet plundered by an industry that puts its profits ahead of our survival. And just as troubling, we’ve seen politicians do the bidding of billionaires, catering to their corporate benefactors while sticking the rest of us with the bill. … I’m running to change that,” he said in the release.

According to the Associated Press, Crisanta Duran, another former state House Speaker, might also be considering a run.

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