Lakewood Democrat Andy Kerr plans to announce run for 7th Congressional District seat Wednesday

Author: Ernest Luning - April 11, 2017 - Updated: April 12, 2017

State Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, addresses a rally in support of public education on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, at Denver's Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
State Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, addresses a rally in support of public education on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, at Denver’s Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

With a promise to fight for education, jobs and the Colorado way of life, state Sen. Andy Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat, plans to announce on Wednesday afternoon he’s running for the 7th Congressional District seat represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who declared Sunday he’s running for governor in next year’s election.

“The working families of Adams and Jefferson counties should have someone who listens to them, who hears them, and who fights for opportunities and a better life for them and their children,” Kerr, a Jeffco Public Schools teacher serving his second term in the Senate, said in a statement. “As a husband and father of three who grew up here myself, I would be honored to represent them.”

“We all want the same things — a decent life for ourselves, our parents, and our children,” Kerr continued. “But too many people who work hard and play by the rules don’t see that happening. I believe we have a responsibility to look out for each other and to fight for the things that matter.”

Kerr plans to launch his bid at what his campaign is calling “a friendly community announcement” at Dunstan Middle School, where he taught geography to seventh-graders for nearly a decade. (He’s currently teaching online social studies courses to middle and high school students as part of Jeffco’s 21st Century Virtual Academy.)

“The difference for our future depends on if the country follows the principles of the 7th Congressional District, or of the top floors of the Trump Tower,” Kerr said. “And it will be my job to fight for the things that matter for the families of Jefferson and Adams Counties — for their education, for their jobs, for the Colorado way of life — and make sure their voices are heard loud and clear in Congress.”

Kerr will be facing state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, a fellow Lakewood Democrat, in a primary for the battleground seat, which could attract more candidates in the weeks to come. State Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, has told The Colorado Statesman he’s more than likely to run, and state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, has also said she’s weighing a bid.

The Colorado Statesman was first to report that Pettersen and Kerr were planning to run for the seat if Perlmutter decided to run for governor.

The suburban district wraps around Denver to the west and the north, including Lakewood, Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Westminster, Northglenn, Thornton, Federal Heights and parts of Commerce City, in addition to stretches of unincorporated Jefferson and Adams counties.

While Democrats hold an edge among active registered voters — 34.6 percent are Democrats, 26.5 percent are Republican and 36.9 percent are unaffiliated — it’s considered a swing seat and could be up for grabs without Perlmutter, a six-term incumbent, on the ballot.

Former Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman Don Ytterberg, who lost a bid challenging Perlmutter in 2014, told The Statesman last week that he’s pondering another run for the seat, while Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo, a former House minority leader, and businessman and one-time U.S. Senate hopeful Jerry Natividad are also said to be considering getting in.

Kerr has represented Senate District 22 since winning the seat in 2012 and had served three terms in the House — representing the seat Pettersen holds — before that. He sits on the Senate Education and Finance committees.

Along with former House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Kerr is the lead plaintiff in a slowly moving lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, arguing that TABOR limits the authority of lawmakers and undermines the state’s republican form of government.

At the Capitol, Kerr has spearheaded education initiatives and been a supporter of renewable energy measures. He’s sponsored successful legislation to reform public pensions, address concerns with technology and establish low-cost loans to help schools increase energy efficiency.

He and his wife, Tammy, are raising two sons and a daughter and live in Lakewood’s Green Mountain neighborhood.

The National Republican Congressional Committee put Perlmutter’s district on its target list earlier this year. Perlmutter has won the seat by double digits all six times he’s been on the ballot.


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.