State House Republican whip Cory Gardner is officially challenging Congresswoman Betsy Markey in Colorado’s expansive Fourth District in 2010, setting the stage for a possible GOP primary against University of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero, Politico reports.

In a statement to Fort Collins Now, Gardner says he doesn’t think a primary against Lucero–or possible other candidates, including former Fort Collins City Councilman Diggs Brown and Larimer County Commissioner Steve Johnson–will hurt the party. In an aggressive campaign last year, Markey, a Democrat, ousted Republican Marilyn Musgrave in a 56 percent to 44 percent vote even though the GOP’s presidential candidate, John McCain, narrowly led President Barack Obama in the district, according to this Congressional Quarterly blog.

Gardner is a lawyer and was an aide to former U.S. Senator Wayne Allard. He was appointed to the state House in 2005 and re-elected without an opponent in 2008. Markey, meanwhile, continues to reach out to her district, recently visiting Berthoud, a tiny town north of Longmont, to field questions from residents about credit cards, the economy, and veterans, according to the Berthoud Recorder.