Owen Hill joins GOP field to challenge Sen. Mark Udall

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, during an interview with FOX31 Denver during the 2013 legislative session.

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, during an interview with FOX31 Denver during the 2013 legislative session.

DENVER — Sen. Owen Hill, after just one year as a state lawmaker, is running for the U.S. Senate, FOX31 Denver is first to report.

Hill, R-Colorado Springs, will announce Monday that he is seeking the GOP’s nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Udall next year.

Hill, 31, filed paperwork to run last week.

“We’ve been looking at it for a while,” Hill told FOX31 Denver Monday morning. “The Republican Party in Colorado does not have an answer for what the Democrats are doing. It’s time for some new ideas and for a candidate who will focus on innovation. both on policy and within our politics.

“There’s no one on our side who’s bringing that message of innovation and a focus on the freedom of the individual.”

His announcement Monday comes less than 24 hours after the Denver Post reported that his colleague, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, plans to announce his own campaign for Udall’s seat on Friday.

It’s also expected that Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who lost his 2010 U.S. Senate challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet, will join what’s suddenly becoming a robust primary field after the first half of 2013 passed without a single Republican signaling much interest in the race.

Udall, who is seeking a second term, has been a solid fundraiser, with $3.4 million in the bank at the mid-year point.

Hill told FOX31 Denver he’s raised about $40,000 so far.

With the Colorado GOP desperate for new talent, Hill offers a confident, fresh-faced conservative with a Christmas card-ready family — he and his wife have four young children — above-average abilities as a communicator and record that appeals to the GOP base and, perhaps, beyond.

Earlier this year, Hill was one of three Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the ASSET bill granting in-state college tuition to undocumented students, something that will only help in a statewide race where Hispanics make up a significant and increasing piece of the electorate.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, who earlier Monday released a statement calling Baumgardner’s candidacy “an embarrassment for Republicans”, likened Hill to former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

“Owen Hill, who thus far has served an eighth of his first-term in public office – far less than even Sarah Palin did before seeking another job – confirmed his candidacy for U.S. Senate, proving to be another partisan who’s only focused on one job—his,” Palacio said.

“Owen Hill’s candidacy will stand in stark contrast to Sen. Udall’s common-sense work for job-creation, preserving our quality of life in Colorado and keeping our country safe.”