The Post editorial: Ed Perlmutter’s exit from race is sad news
For nearly 20 years, Coloradans have benefited from the public service of Ed Perlmutter, so his announcement this week that he would not only step down from his fledgling gubernatorial run, but also exit Washington when his congressional term expires, comes as sad news indeed.
We hate to see Perlmutter go. From his time in the state legislature to his five terms in Congress, he’s been a true public servant. As one of the hardest-working members of Congress, he’s also been one of the most congenial and collegiate. The United States needs more statesmen, and, while a reliable Democrat, Perlmutter has sought to fill that role.
Yes, he’s been more of a champion of unions than we would have liked, but his professional background as an attorney also gave him useful insights in what makes the private sector tick. His work supporting the scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and veterans at the still-under-construction VA hospital in Aurora has been exemplary.
Perlmutter said he couldn’t overcome feeling like he didn’t have enough fire in the belly to press on. No doubt, some of that second-guessing came from the fact other strong Democrats have entered the primary race, including the deep-pocketed Jared Polis, Perlmutter’s colleague from Boulder. Another factor: these are hyper-partisan days. It’s difficult to imagine how Perlmutter could stir the “feel the Bern” passions that now so dominate his party.
The congressman, who somehow kept up his optimistic nature in these most cynical of times, was also badly shaken by the shooting of members of the congressional Republican baseball team and others last month. The attack badly injured Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., whom Perlmutter counts as a friend.
It’s not the first time gun violence resonated with the congressman. Almost five years ago, it was in his district that a gunman opened fire in a crowded Aurora movie theater, slaughtering 12 and injuring dozens. Perlmutter visited the injured in hospitals and comforted family and friends at funerals.
The baseball field shooting also served as an eerie reminder of the grocery store shooting that so badly injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in 2011.
“I’ve had friends now — one Republican, one Democrat — get shot,” Perlmutter told The Denver Post last month. “They’re good people. We may not agree on the politics and stuff, but they’re good people.”
Perlmutter added that such violence makes “you take stock of yourself, your friends, your family.” Sobering words from a man who for years has made a practice of holding constituent meetings in grocery stores.
After Perlmutter’s district was redrawn, and became more competitive, he faced a significant challenger in Joe Coors in 2012, but so strong was his reputation in the area, he easily bested the conservative beer scion.
The congressman voted with his party roughly 90 percent of the time in recent years, according to rankings compiled by the National Journal. This paper called Perlmutter the least partisan member of the Colorado delegation in 2011. He’s never been known as a bombthrower, and he takes pride in thoroughly reading the bills before him.
The man’s a class act. We’ve been proud to support him over the years, and wish him all the best in his next chapter. The members of The Denver Post’s editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman; Mac Tully, CEO and publisher; Chuck Plunkett, editor of the editorial pages; Megan Schrader, editorial writer; and Cohen Peart, opinion editor.