REP. ED PERLMUTTER ASKED TO CHANGE MIND AND KEEP SEAT
Representative being asked to keep seat in Congress after an exit from governor’s race
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is being pressured to stay in his long-held congressional seat a month after the Democrat dropped out of the race for Colorado governor and announced he would not run for re-election to the U.S. House next year, sources told The Denver Post.
The development has sent shock waves through the fourway Democratic primary to replace the six-term incumbent in the left-leaning 7th Congressional District, with at least two candidates hinting that they might leave the race should Perlmutter backtrack on his earlier decision.
The sources confirmed the situation to The Post on the condition of anonymity.
Perlmutter, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the claim, which was first reported by Colorado Politics.
Should Perlmutter reverse his decision on leaving Congress, one independent political analyst said, he could sully his chances of seeking higher office — for instance, in 2020 against Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.
“(Perlmutter) hasn’t necessarily helped himself in terms of his broader reputation outside of his congressional district,” said Eric Sondermann, an independent political analyst. “I think he also has to at some point look in the mirror and not only make the political calculation, but also the personal calculation, as three other young and up-and-coming Democrats have staked their futures on his word.”
But for the short term, Sondermann said, any damage should be minimal.
“Does he lose credibility (if he runs for re-election to Congress)? Somewhat, given that if he does he will have said he’s running for governor and said ‘nevermind’ and said he won’t be running for re-election and said ‘nevermind,’ ” said Sondermann. “Does he lose his seat? No. He has a firm grasp.”
On July 11, Perlmutter announced three months after joining the Colorado gubernatorial contest that he would no longer seek to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper, saying he didn’t have the “fire in the belly” to meet the demands of the campaign and his job in Congress.
“It takes time and it takes money and it takes energy — and putting all those together, I found looking down deep it was going to be a tough road to hoe,” Perlmutter told reporters and a handful of tearful supporters at his campaign office in Golden.
Perlmutter said another reason for his change of heart was the shooting of House Republican and Majority Whip Steve Scalise at a congressional baseball
team practice. Perlmutter said in July: “I know when Steve Scalise got shot, that had something to do with it. You know, I just took a good look at things.”
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, state Sens. Dominick Moreno and Andy Kerr, and former ambassador Dan Baer are all running in the Democratic primary to replace Perlmutter. Collectively, they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
No prominent Republicans have announced a run for the job.
“Ed told us all that he wasn’t running again, so I’m going to continue to work hard to make sure we keep the seat blue and run the campaign necessary to win until I hear otherwise,” Pettersen told The Post on Friday. “Obviously he is considering this option and I’m not changing anything I’m doing unless I hear that he’s officially in.”
Moreno echoed those sentiments, saying: “I am confident that I will represent congressional District 7 well, and until Ed comes to a decision, our campaign will continue to press forward.”
He added: “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. I care only that our neighbors have the best possible representation in Washington.”
Baer called Perlmutter “a great champion for the 7th District” and said “for now, I’m focused on the future, my campaign.” A spokeswoman for Kerr declined to comment.
Perlmutter was first elected to his congressional seat in 2006. Before that, he served in the state legislature.