News that Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is reconsidering re-election sends ripple

Author: Peter Marcus - August 15, 2017 - Updated: August 15, 2017

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, raises his hands in the air before announcing he's running for governor of Colorado in the 2018 election on Sunday, April 9, 2017, at the Natural Grocers store in Golden. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

News reported by Colorado Politics on Friday that U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is reconsidering a run for re-election has sent a ripple across the state’s political world.

Four Democrats already in the 7th Congressional District primary race scrambed in the aftermath of the story, just as their fundraising efforts were starting to kick into a higher gear.

State Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, along with state Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, are answering questions about the viability of their campaigns in the wake of the news, according to sources close to the campaigns.

The three candidates have already raised a collective $358,000 in their first financial reporting periods, and considerable more money has been raised since those numbers were reported at the end of the last quarter.

Also running in the race is former Obama-era U.S. ambassador Dan Baer, who announced his candidacy this month.

Supporters of the candidates and the campaigns themselves have found themselves confused as they attempt to understand Perlmutter’s motivations.

Colorado Politics confirmed from multiple sources – including those in Perlmutter’s inner circle – that the six-term congressman from Arvada is considering a re-election bid, even after he publicly announced that he would not run for the seat again. Perlmutter announced that he would not run for re-election after dropping out of the governor’s race just three months after entering the contest.

“I really respect Congressman Perlmutter and the work he’s done to represent the 7th Congressional District, but this move is out of character for him, and I think there are already great candidates that would do a great job of representing our values in Washington,” said Jenny Willford, executive director of Emerge Colorado, which supports women running for elected office.

“Every single one of those candidates has made life and career decisions in order to run because Congressman Perlmutter gave him their word that he wasn’t running.”

Perlmutter’s decision to reconsider a run for re-election came after pressure from constituents and fellow members of Congress encouraged him to do so. But some feel a decision to run for the seat would be unfair given the momentum already behind existing candidates.

“This has the potential to create a domino effect on the ballot for other candidates who are now running for the seats,” Willford said.

The candidates themselves have so far been taking a measured approach, saying they are waiting to see what Perlmutter ultimately decides before making any significant decisions.

“Ed has served Adams and Jefferson counties tremendously as our U.S. congressman for the last 10 years. He has inspired me and his decision to vacate the seat to run for governor prompted my run to fill his big shoes,” Moreno said. “I care only that our neighbors have the best possible representation in Washington. I am confident that I will represent the 7th Congressional District well, and until Ed comes to a decision, our campaign will continue to press forward.”

Pettersen similarly said that she is going to continue to raise money and convince voters  that she is the right choice for the seat until she hears from Perlmutter directly.

Kerr’s campaign declined to comment when asked by Colorado Politics.

Perlmutter has reached out to many of the Democrats in the primary, and at least one candidate confirmed that Perlmutter was hoping to discuss his thoughts on running for re-election, which Perlmutter told the candidate was inspired by pressure to run again.

Much of the pressure came last Tuesday at a kick-off event to launch the re-election campaigns of several Jefferson County Board of Education members. Two other 7th Congressional District Democratic campaigns confirmed contact with Perlmutter, though they could not say why Perlmutter wanted to speak with them.

“This race represents an opportunity to send another woman to Congress, which is more important than ever,” Willford said. “Research shows us that women govern different than men do in important ways and they tend to be more collaborative and bipartisan.”

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus is senior statehouse reporter for Colorado Politics. He covers the legislature and previously covered politics, the governor’s office, the legislature and Congress for The Durango Herald. He joined The Herald in 2014 from The Colorado Statesman, a Denver-based political weekly. The Washington Post twice named Marcus one of the nation’s top state-based political and legislative reporters.