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Perlmutter's decision not taken lightly

18 months in Congress remain after choice to quit race for governor


Besides some trips to the mountains and local staycations, the Perlmutters have not taken a family vacation for more than a decade.

So while Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) will be focusing on wrapping up his congressional duties for the next year and a half, his family is going to start thinking about planning some family bonding time.

“Hopefully something fun,” said the congressman's daughter Zoe Perlmutter.

She added, though, no matter how busy he stays with his legislative duties, Perlmutter never missed one of his daughters' school dances, and he always tried to make it to every community event that he could.

Perlmutter, known for his advocacy for renewable energy and the aerospace industry, announced on July 11 his intent to withdraw from the 2018 gubernatorial race and not to run for re-election to Congress either.

The decision followed about three or four weeks of conversations that took place between himself, his family and staff, Perlmutter said at the press conference in his Applewood office.

"I had to take a good, realistic look at it," he said.

Campaigning to run for governor takes a lot of time, energy and money, Perlmutter said. And it would need to take place simultaneously with continuing to serve the 7th Congressional District, which covers much of Jefferson County, including Golden, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and Arvada, as well as much of Westminster, Thornton and Northglenn.

It must have been a hard decision to make, according to Emilie Mitcham, first vice chair of the Jefferson County Democrats. Nobody takes the initial decision to run lightly, she said, and it must have been even more difficult to decide to withdraw.

“He would have made a great governor. I have nothing but respect for both him and his wife Nancy,” Mitcham said. “You always felt like you could talk to him — and that he would listen.”

Even with Perlmutter dropping out, the 2018 race to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited, is a crowded one. Hickenlooper, who won the governorship in 2010 and 2014, is term limited.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a wealthy Democrat from Boulder, announced in June that he would join the gubernatorial race. Other Democrats running are former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy.

Notable on the Republican side is Doug Robinson, the nephew of Mitt Romney; and District Attorney George Brauchler of the 18th Judicial District, which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Another Republican, and also someone who could self-fund a campaign, is Kent Thiry, the CEO of Denver-based DaVita Inc., who has said he's considering a run.

There is a lot of speculation as to why Perlmutter dropped out, Brauchler said. Some are saying funding and others are saying it's the other candidates, he added.

But “at the end of the day, I don't think Colorado is for sale,” Brauchler said. “Regardless of political position, Coloradans want somebody who can lead the state.”

Perlmutter was first elected to represent the 7th Congressional District in 2006, and served two terms in the Colorado Senate beginning in 1994.

"Congressman Perlmutter has been fighting for Coloradans for decades,” Kennedy said. “I hope we continue to see his leadership in Colorado on whatever path he chooses.”

Perlmutter never considered leaving his seat in Congress to focus on the governor's race, he said at the press conference.

“I will continue to fulfill my commitment to the people of Jefferson County and Adams County,” he said. “I still have a lot of things on tap.”

A No. 1 priority is completing the VA Medical Center in Aurora, which is scheduled to open in 2018 and expected to improve medical care for veterans across the region. Perlmutter said he would also continue his work with aerospace, specifically the Orion Project, and marijuana issues.

However, Perlmutter also announced on July 11 that he has decided not to run for re-election to keep his seat as the U.S. House representative for Colorado's 7th Congressional District.

Sen. Andy Kerr, who is running for Perlmutter’s congressional seat, believes Coloradans want what Perlmutter stands for.

Those values, Kerr said, include “economic opportunity for working families, a quality public education for all our kids, access to health care and reproductive rights, equal rights for LGBT(Q) Coloradans and protecting our public lands for everyone to enjoy.”

Even if not in a legislative office, Perlmutter “will continue to play a critical role here at home as a public servant and public advocate for the things we care about, from education to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory,” Kerr said. “Ed will keep doing what he's been doing for years … he'll keep being (a) coach, supporter and friend to Coloradans and his community.”

Perlmutter still has 18 months left to accomplish his goals in Congress.

“I love this state,” Perlmutter said. “As a Democrat in a Republican Congress under the Trump White House, I'm going to make the best of it that I can.”

Perlmutter's slogan has always been "our neighbor, our voice," Zoe Perlmutter said. “He knows how to help people.”

In fact, one of his favorite things to do is go to the grocery store, his other daughter Abby Perlmutter added, because he genuinely enjoys talking to people and listening to what they have to say.

“He has always been a friend for people,” Abby Perlmutter said. “Whether he's governor, or congressman or neighbor, he'll be working with the community to make it a better place.”


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