Lakewood Republican Mark Barrington mulls challenge against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter

Author: Ernest Luning - January 12, 2018 - Updated: January 12, 2018

Lakewood Republican Mark Barrington is considering challenging U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the Arvada Democrat’s bid for a seventh term representing the 7th Congressional District. (Courtesy photo)

Saying he wants to bring fun back into politics, Lakewood Republican Mark Barrington told Colorado Politics he’s strongly considering running against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional District.

Barrington, 39, a small business owner who works in sales, said he plans to decide within weeks whether to challenge the Arvada Democrat’s bid for a seventh term — but if he runs, he promises “a different kind of race” meant to involve people who typically abhor politics while delighting everyone else.

“This is the time to rise up to the top with a new vision and a new mission that can bring people together to have fun,” he said in an interview. “If we’re going to live our purpose and be prepared and serve the people, you need to have fun. We want not your typical voter — we want the silent majorities, we want the families. Having fun and having freedom, that’s what this is about.”

Barrington said concern about the country’s direction has driven him to consider the congressional campaign.

“The question is, what do you want your legacy to be? And in 15, 20, 30 years from now, do you want the national debt to be higher than it is now? It will be if somebody doesn’t step up,” he said.

Republicans have yet to field a candidate against Perlmutter, an energetic campaigner known for his cartwheels, who got in and then out of the gubernatorial race — and out and then back in his run for reelection last year over a tumultuous five-month period.

“We live in an amazing community, and I am energized by the number of local leaders who have encouraged me to run and have pledged their support,” Barrington said in a prepared statement. “Their input and the possibility of empowering Colorado citizens, families, and businesses is informing this important decision. Coloradans deserve more than too-tired Ed and his tired old policies.”

Barrington said voters could see some echoes of Donald Trump’s presidential run in his congressional bid — from the unconventional trappings of the Trump campaign to the president’s ability to draw a “silent majority” into his corner, although he cautioned against expecting too many similarities.

“I’m not Donald Trump, I’m Mark Barrington,” he said. “It’s about Jefferson County and Adams County and putting those people first.”

A former candidate for the Legislature and the Lakewood City Council, Barrington has been publicly weighing a run in the 7th District since last summer, when he told Colorado Politics he believed district voters were “hungry for something different” but added he’d happily step aside if a stronger candidate emerged.

It appears none has. Former Jefferson County GOP Chair Don Ytterberg, who lost a run against Perlmutter in 2014, and Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo, along with Lakewood businessman Jerry Natividad all told Colorado Politics last  year that they were giving some thought to a run in he district, but all later said they’d decided against it.

First elected to Congress in 2006, Perlmutter, a former state senator, has won by double-digit margins every time he’s been on the ballot for the congressional seat. Ytterberg came closest, losing by just 10 points in 2014, and John Lerew — known for riding his Segway nearly everywhere he went — fell short by the widest margin in 2008, losing by 27 points. The others who have taken on Perlmutter — Rick O’Donnell, Ryan Frazier, Joe Coors and George Athanasopoulos — each trailed by about a dozen points.

The suburban 7th Congressional District covers northern Jefferson County and western Adams County, including Lakewood, Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Westminster, Northglenn, Thornton, Federal Heights and parts of Commerce City, as well as unincorporated areas in both counties. Although it has more Democrats than Republicans, it’s considered a potential swing seat because neither party dominates, and they’re both outnumbered by unaffiliated voters.

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee told Colorado Politics last summer the group viewed Perlmutter as vulnerable and was recruiting in the district, adding that his “flailing in and out of the governor’s race only weakened his standing and trust with Colorado voters.”

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.