Rep­re­sen­ta­tive be­ing asked to keep seat in Congress af­ter an exit from gov­er­nor’s race

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul

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.

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