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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 23, 20174min342

Perhaps the final word on the surprise re-entry of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter into the race for his own 7th Congressional District seat belongs to Colorado Pols, a divining rod for Democratic thinking and an insider source for developments in the party. Arguably, the seasoned and savvy blog is also a default mediator, of sorts, among competing Democratic interests.

Hence, a post Tuesday addressing potential fallout, or at least background noise in some quarters within the party, over the veteran congressman’s seemingly fickle turnabout:

… after a period of introspection, it became clear that Perlmutter’s seniority in Congress and long record of effective leadership in this district are powerful assets that serve his constituents and the state well.

So yes, he gets to do this. As we’ve said before, it’s possible that there is no one in Colorado politics today who has the political capital to pull this kind of episode off without loss of standing besides Ed Perlmutter. His decision to run again, as painful as it is to his would-be successors through no fault of their own, is therefore one that everybody on the Democratic side of the aisle is compelled to accept.

The other candidates will all get their chances, in no small part based on their graciousness today.

“Compelled to accept,” got it? A pretty definitive statement from an influential voice that, sure, is very comfortable with Perlmutter but also is close to some of the other contenders who have now dropped out of what was going to be a competitive primary. And Pols offered this blunt assessment of the one candidate who is still in:

The only other candidate still nominally remaining the Democratic CD-7 race is Dan Baer, a former Obama administration diplomat who parachuted into the race early in August:

A spokeswoman for Baer, who said he raised more than $300,000 in the two weeks after he announced his campaign Aug. 1, said Monday that he was traveling and “given the number of twists and turns in this race so far, we don’t have any immediate response.”

Whatever, Baer. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what this locally unknown come-lately candidate says at this point. For all intents and purposes the 2018 CD-7 Democratic primary is over, and Baer will just humiliate himself if he ignores that reality.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 22, 20175min214

Supporters of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter are standing by the candidate despite the clear disruption his decision to run for re-election has brought to the Democratic primary.

Perlmutter on Monday officially announced that he would run for re-election in the 7th Congressional District, after Colorado Politics reported on Aug. 11 that he was reconsidering the race.

Perlmutter had said he would not run for re-election so that he could pursue a run for governor. After dropping out of the governor’s race just three months in, Perlmutter said that he would still not run for re-election. But he received pressure from inside and outside of Colorado to reconsider.

The news came as a shock to four Democratic candidates already in the race, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, state Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and former Obama administration ambassador Dan Baer of Arvada.

Pettersen, Kerr, and Moreno raised a combined $358,000 in their first financial reporting periods, and more money has been raised since those numbers were reported at the end of the last quarter. Baer recently told Colorado Politics that he raised more than $300,000 in just two weeks.

Campaigns announced a lull in fundraising after news broke that Perlmutter was reconsidering the seat. Donors wanted to wait to see what his final decision would be. With a formal re-election campaign planned, Perlmutter has the ability to clear the field.

Moreno quickly announced that he would drop out of the race and support Perlmutter. Pettersen later announced that she was dropping out of the race. Kerr and Baer are weighing their options.

State Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, who sits in the seat Perlmutter once occupied in the statehouse, said Perlmutter represents the best chance of holding onto the district for Democrats.

“I’ve always been a very strong Perlmutter supporter, and the reason being is he is so real,” Jahn said. “He says what he means and he means what he says.”

Jahn said the only reason Perlmutter first said he would not run for re-election was because of his initial desire to run for governor, but that it is totally fair for him to reconsider.

“That’s what races are all about, that’s politics, that’s what happens,” Jahn said. “I’m thrilled that he’s back in.”

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Republican from Wray, also supported Perlmutter in his decision to run for re-election. Brophy, now a lobbyist, believes Perlmutter has the seniority to push critical Colorado issues over the finish line in Congress.

“It’s good for Colorado because of his seniority on Financial Services. If we’re ever going to get equitable tax and banking treatment for our legal Colorado marijuana businesses, we need as much seniority as possible on Financial Services,” Brophy said, referring to Perlmutter’s seat on the House Financial Services Committee.

“I know that they desperately wan to run for Congress,” Brophy said of the other four candidates. “But I still want the best for Colorado, and Ed Perlmutter is the best for Colorado. It’s a gut punch, but … all is fair in love and war and politics.”

Alan Salazar, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s chief of staff, said he was one of many voices encouraging Perlmutter to run for re-election.

“I didn’t encourage him to do anything but look at where he could make a contribution and to think twice about leaving public service altogether,” Salazar said. “I would give that same advice to anybody who I believe in and thought was a good human being.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 16, 20176min681

Former Obama administration U.S. Ambassador Dan Baer raised more than $300,000 in two weeks since entering the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Colorado Politics has learned.

The Baer campaign confirmed the impressive fundraising haul, though it said that it has not yet analyzed where the money is coming from. Baer said only a handful of donations came from phone calls, and the rest have come from email and social media efforts.

“It’s been a mix of people,” Baer told Colorado Politics on Wednesday.

The fundraising effort eclipses three other Democrats who have been running in the primary for months, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood.

Kerr, Moreno and Pettersen combined for $358,000 in their first financial reporting periods, though more money has been raised since those numbers were reported at the end of the last quarter.

Pettersen topped the first fundraising period for the race, with more than $170,000. Her campaign said fundraising was restricted by her work in the legislature this year, with more than 80 percent of donations coming after the conclusion of the legislative session in May.

Kerr raised more than $104,000 in his first fundraising period. Kerr said 88 percent of the total he raised was accomplished after the legislative session ended in May.

Moreno, who had just five weeks left in the fundraising quarter since jumping into the race at the end of May, raised nearly $85,000.

The three campaigns highlighted that much of their money came from individual donors within Colorado. Supporters of Kerr, Moreno and Pettersen have privately commented that Baer benefits from a wealthy national network.

“I am not independently wealthy,” Baer responded.

A Colorado native who previously served as a U.S. ambassador under President Obama, Baer moved to Arvada after President Trump took office.

Much of the fundraising efforts in the 7th Congressional District for Democrats has been hampered by recent news that Perlmutter is reconsidering whether to run for re-election. Some financial supporters are withholding donations as they wait to see what Perlmutter will do.

A $300,000 start in just two weeks offers Baer a bit of comfort. He must still battle name recognition in Jefferson and Adams counties.

The Republican field for the seat is still developing, though no competitive candidates have yet entered the race, despite the somewhat politically mixed nature of the district.

Baer said his campaign launch video – a “bootstrap” effort, as he described it – helped kickoff fundraising efforts. The video features his work as an ambassador, taking a tough stance on Russia, while also fighting for people to “pursue happiness.”

Born in Denver, Baer grew up in the western suburbs of the city. Before serving as a U.S. ambassador – which began in 2013 – Baer advised corporations and nonprofits as a project leader at the Boston Consulting Group.

He also taught business ethics during the financial crisis, and served in the State Department during the Obama Administration.

Obama tapped Baer to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where he was responsible for implementation of arms control agreements, addressing international conflicts, and working on human rights issues.

Baer, a 40-year-old candidate, is married to Brian Walsh, an environmental economist who advises the World Bank.

Baer said he was “stunned by the response” to his campaign launch video and social media efforts. A former professor at Georgetown University, the Democrat said he has seen contributions from former students, from colleagues he worked with at the State Department, and from other colleagues “who saw me in action in the Obama administration.”

“It’s been both within Colorado and across the country, I’ve been really touched,” Baer said of the contributions.

Shad Murib, campaign manager for Kerr, responded, “We look forward to seeing how many of his donors are from the district or the state of Colorado.”

The Moreno and Pettersen campaigns declined to comment.

When asked about the impressive fundraising haul, Baer said, “Money is necessary but not sufficient to run a good campaign.”

He added, “We have to make democracy deliver. I believe that the first step in solving problems, or the first step in addressing problems, is understanding them… I think it is right and proper that I spend several months listening before I start opining on situations. I am focused on spending as many hours of every day as I can either listening to voters or making sure that I’ll have the resources in place.

“The other thing that people have told me, ‘The only way you can win as an outsider in Colorado is if you’re able to self-fund.’ What I have asked people to do so far is invest in this campaign and invest in a different approach to the moment that we’re in.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 16, 20174min220
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, left, listens to a constituent at a town hall meeting sponsored by Lakewood legislators on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, at the Lakewood Cultural Center. On Thursday, June 22, 2017, national fundraising group Emily's List endorsed Petterson in Colorado's 7th Congressional District primary. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, left, listens to a constituent at a town hall meeting sponsored by Lakewood legislators on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, at the Lakewood Cultural Center.  (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

State Rep. Brittany Pettersen – one of four Democratic candidates seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter – announced a long list of endorsements on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as Colorado Politics reported that Perlmutter is reconsidering running for the 7th Congressional District seat.

Perlmutter – who was first running for governor but then dropped his bid – had said that he wouldn’t run for re-election. But Colorado Politics learned that he is reconsidering that decision.

Endorsements for Pettersen include former Lt. Gov. and at-large Denver School Board member Barbara O’Brien, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, former House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, to name a few.

The news release announcing the endorsements includes 26 supporters.

“In a time when many Coloradans are feeling uncertain and left behind, we are coming together to support Brittany Pettersen for Congress because she knows first-hand the challenges facing Colorado families and what it takes to overcome those obstacles,” the news release states for the Lakewood Democrat.

“Brittany is running for Congress because Colorado families who already have it tough are under assault by President Trump and a dysfunctional Congress who are threatening the lifelines families need to create better lives for themselves.”

Also running in the race are state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City. Former Obama-era U.S. ambassador Dan Baer is also running in the primary.

If Perlmutter chooses to run for re-election, his announcement could clear the field after the candidates 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.

Baer – who entered the race earlier this month – is rumored to have already collected a large haul from supporters.

The candidates have committed to staying in the race, at least until they hear directly from Perlmutter on his intentions.

“Brittany Pettersen is a leader who has earned our support because we need someone who won’t back down and won’t stop fighting to make the lives of Coloradans better,” the news release continues. “Whether it’s quality education for all students, good paying jobs in our communities, or access to quality, affordable healthcare, Brittany will ensure that regular people have a voice in Congress.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 15, 20175min338

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.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 11, 20176min481

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter may not have “fire in the belly” to run for governor, but he has not ruled out running for re-election to Congress, Colorado Politics has learned.

Multiple sources confirmed that after Perlmutter was approached by constituents and fellow colleagues in Congress about a re-election campaign, he began reconsidering running for re-election. Sources could not speak on the record, as they were not at liberty to discuss the details of Perlmutter’s thoughts.

A re-election campaign would come after Perlmutter, a Democrat from Arvada who represents the 7th Congressional District in Jefferson and Adams counties, declared that he would not pursue the seat again.

Several Democrats have been running to replace Perlmutter in a tightly contested primary, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, also of Lakewood. Also running in the race is former Obama-era U.S. ambassador Dan Baer.

A re-election bid by the popular Perlmutter could cripple those campaigns.

Republicans have yet to present a formidable candidate to win in the district that is dominated by unaffiliated voters.

The Democratic primary candidates have begun fundraising efforts, with Pettersen leading the pack with more than $170,000 in her first quarter. Kerr raised more than $104,000 in his first quarter, and Moreno raised more than $84,000 in just five weeks since he announced his campaign at the end of May.

If Perlmutter chooses to run for re-election, it would mark the continuation of a bizarre series of twists and turns for the congressman after he dropped out of the race for governor last month, just three months after first announcing his candidacy. He was considered to be the front-runner in the race. Perlmutter bowed out just before reporting close to $340,000 in campaign contributions in his first filing period with the state.

Perlmutter acknowledged that the landscape changed in the crowded Democratic primary for governor when U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder entered the race last month. Polis, a 42-year-old millionaire, has the ability to self-fund and raise money from a liberal base of the party.

Also running in the gubernatorial race is former state Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy of Denver and Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne has formed an exploratory committee as she considers a run.

Some speculated that Perlmutter felt pressured to say he would not run for re-election when he dropped out of the governor’s race. In addition to saying that he had lost “fire in the belly” to run for governor, Perlmutter said the recent shooting of Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana also contributed to his decision to get out of politics.

“I know when Steve Scalise got shot, that had something to do with it,” Perlmutter said at a news conference announcing his departure from the governor’s race. “You know, I just took a good look at things.”

But after repeatedly being asked to run for re-election to Congress, Perlmutter began to reconsider the seat, sources say.

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 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.

For many Perlmutter supporters, the six-term congressman was leaving politics with a whimper instead of a bang. Despite many in the Democratic Party feeling that he was their best path forward in the gubernatorial race, Perlmutter still dropped out. There were tears in some of his supporters’ eyes as he also announced that he would not run for re-election to Congress.

Sources close to Perlmutter say that in “almost every conversation that he has,” someone is asking him to run for re-election. In the meantime, while he reconsiders a re-election bid, sources close to Perlmutter say he is “recharging.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 9, 20174min289

Colorado’s race to replace Democrat Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional District grew by one more in the past week.

Dan Baer, a Colorado native who previously served as a U.S. ambassador under President Obama, has joined three other Democrats in the competitive primary.

“We’re at a pivotal moment. We need bold new ideas and a commitment to stand up for our Colorado values,” Baer said in a statement. “Working together, we can put our communities and our country on a path toward success in the 21st century.”

A news release announcing his campaign said that Obama appointed him to “promote American values abroad.”

He joins state Sen. Andy Kerr and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, both from Lakewood, and state Sen. Dominick Moreno, from Commerce City.

The seat is open after Perlmutter announced that he would not run for re-election. Perlmutter was initially pursuing a run for governor, but he dropped that bid.

The Republican field for the seat is still developing, though no competitive candidates have yet entered the race, despite the somewhat politically mixed nature of the district.

Born in Denver, Baer grew up in the western suburbs of the city. Before serving as a U.S. ambassador – which began in 2013 – Baer advised corporations and nonprofits as a project leader at the Boston Consulting Group.

He also taught business ethics during the financial crisis, and served in the State Department during the Obama Administration, according to the news release announcing his campaign.

Obama tapped Baer to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where he was responsible for implementation of arms control agreements, addressing international conflicts, and working on human rights issues.

“Dan daily maintained the delicate balance of holding the Russian government accountable for invading Ukraine and committing human rights violations against its own citizens, while also working with Russia – and with 55 other OSCE countries – on issues of vital importance to our national security,” the news release states.

After leaving the Obama Administration, Baer, a 40-year-old gay candidate, and his husband, Brian Walsh – an environmental economist who advises the World Bank – moved back to Colorado.

“We’re in a tough moment right now, but if Coloradans work together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve,” Baer said.

He said he will place a focus on not getting “trapped in deadlocked disagreements and instead seize the opportunity to search for common ground and to craft a future that will be better for all of us.”

“As tough as things are, I’m an optimist,” Baer said. “I believe in the power of Colorado common sense, and I believe that we can make our democracy work for everyone.”