Republicans Jerry Natividad, Mark Barrington weigh run against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter

Author: Ernest Luning - September 14, 2017 - Updated: September 14, 2017

"I am seriously looking at running for governor," U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter says at the 7th Congressional District Democratic reorganization meeting Saturday, March 25, 2017, at the Pipefitters Local Union No. 208 hall in Denver. "But there are a number of hurdles and i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed." (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter thanks members of the 7th Congressional District Democratic central committee at its biennial reorganization meeting on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at the Pipefitter’s union hall in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Two Lakewood Republicans are considering whether to challenge U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s bid for a seventh term in the 7th Congressional District, Colorado Politics has learned.

Jerry Natividad, who mounted a brief campaign last year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, and Mark Barrington, who has run for legislative and city council seats, both said they’re thinking about running for the seat — particularly after Perlmutter said in April he was running for governor and wouldn’t seek reelection, then dropped from the gubernatorial field in July and then declared in August he was back in the congressional race.

Natividad, 64, president and CEO of American Facility Services Group, the Lakewood-based facilities management company he founded, told Colorado Politics he decided against running earlier this year but was recently “approached  by some significant  political  donors and others” who asked him to reconsider.

“I agreed to revisit  my initial decision and am meeting  with my political  advisers once again based on their request and the recent turn of events,” he said. “This is not to say that I at this time will change my mind, but that this may present  an opportunity  we are looking for.”

“I am honored and humbled  that many here in our district and others look at me as a viable  candidate,” he added.

Barrington, 38, who works in sales, said he’s also been urged to look at a congressional campaign.

“We’re seeking counsel and talking to people and trusting that if all the stars align, we’ll make a decision,” he said. “I am excited to see that people are engaged in the idea of having youth involved in the Republican Party. People are excited that a young person is exploring a campaign. We need a fresh start out there — that’s the feedback I’m getting is people are hungry for something different.”

Barrington noted, however, that he’d be happy to step aside if Natividad or another potentially strong candidate decided to run.

“All a primary does is hurt our own party’s chances,” he said. “There would be no point. If Jerry wants to step up and do it, absolutely, let him do it, and we’ll be behind him 100 percent.”

Two other Republicans whose names have circulated as potential candidates — businessman Don Ytterberg, who challenged Perlmutter in 2014, and Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo — recently told Colorado Politics they were unlikely to run.

After joining a crowded Senate primary field a month before last year’s state GOP assembly, Natividad placed fourth in delegate voting, behind El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the eventual Republican nominee, and state Sen. Tim Neville and El Paso County Commissioner Peg Littleton.

Barrington came up short in a bid to unseat then-state Rep. Andy Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat, in 2010. He lost a run for a Lakewood City Council seat the next year.

Perlmutter, a former state senator, was first elected to the congressional seat in 2006. He’s won reelection by double-digit margins ever since, even though it’s considered a potential battleground district because neither party holds a wide edge in voter registration.

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee told Colorado Politics the group is confident Perlmutter is vulnerable this cycle, which is why he landed on a list of targeted Democratic incumbents at the beginning of the year.

:We are still absolutely targeting the seat and continuing to recruit in the 7th,” said Jack Pandol, a regional press secretary for the NRCC. “Perlmutter’s flailing in and out of the governor’s race only weakened his standing and trust with Colorado voters, and he needs to be held accountable.”

After Perlmutter announced he was getting back in the congressional race race, three Democrats who were running in a primary — Kerr, state Sen. Dominick Moreno and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen — ended their campaigns. Dan Baer, a former diplomat with the Obama administration, is still a candidate.

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.