In 2018, Joseph Neguse became the first Eritrean American to serve in Congress and is the first and only African American to be elected to serve in Congress from Colorado. Neguse represents the 2nd District in House of Representatives and serves as the Freshman Co-Representative to Leadership, the Vice-Chair of the Medicare-for-All Caucus, and the Vice-Chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Joseph Neguse was born was born on May 13, 1984 in Bakersfield, California but moved to Colorado with his family at the age of six. The family lived in a number of Colorado communities before finally settling in Lafayette, Colorado. Neguse graduated from Thunder Ridge High School in Highlands Ranch in 2001. He later graduated with a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2005 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado Law School in 2009.
While a student at the University of Colorado, Neguse created New Era Colorado, an organization that promotes itself as the leading voice for young people in Colorado politics and one of the most effective civic youth engagement organizations in the country. New Era Colorado focuses on registering voters, getting out the vote, enacting progressive policy, and training new leaders. The organization has been highlighted in Time Magazine and the New York Times for registering more than 150,000 youth in Colorado to vote, securing successful passage of state level progressive legislation, and leading the fight from a local perspective on climate change.
In 2008, while still a law student, Neguse was elected to CU Board of Regents, becoming the second African American to be elected as Regent in the history of Colorado. He served for six terms, which included two years as Chair of the Audit Committee. His focus was making higher education more affordable and accessible, lowering student health insurance costs, and increasing wages for the University’s lowest paid employees.
At age 31 Neguse was appointed to lead Colorado’s consumer protection agency, making him one of the youngest people to serve in a state Cabinet position in the country. The agency had 600 employees and a $90 million budget. For his work on recovering millions of dollars for consumers, resolving significant fraud cases, and launching Colorado’s first online filing systems for civil rights discrimination complaints, he was awarded the 2017 Consumer Protection Award by the International Council on Licensure, Enforcement, and Regulations.
On June 13, 2017, Neguse announced that he would run for Congress from Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. After defeating businessman and former Boulder County Democratic Party chair, Mark Williams in the June 26, 2018, Democratic primary, he faced Republican businessman Peter Yu in the general election on Nov. 6, and defeated him, receiving 60% of the vote.
After the election Neguse indicated that he would focus in Congress on clean air and water, quality health-care, fair wage policies, and women’s reproductive rights issues. He also supports the proposed Dream and Promise Act, the Equality Act, quality education in public schools, voter rights, and protection of public lands. To date, Neguse has introduced 19 bills to the 116th Congress, the most of any freshman member.
Congressman Neguse is married to Andrea Jimenez and the couple live with their daughter, Andera in Lafayette, Colorado.