On July 11, when Ed Perlmutter announced that he was dropping out of the 2018 Colorado governor's race, he also said he wouldn't run again for U.S. representative in the state's 7th Congressional District in part because "there are a lot of good people in my race.... Sometimes you need to move on and somebody else needs to come in." But yesterday, Perlmutter revealed that he'd changed his mind and will now seek re-election to Congress. This decision has caused three of those good people to step aside, including state senator Andy Kerr, who abandoned ship this morning, August 22. That leaves outsider candidate Dan Baer as the only 7th CD Democratic hopeful other than Perlmutter left standing, and his campaign's comments about the latest developments are far from unequivocal.
"Dan jumped into this race because he believes this is a pivotal moment, when we need energetic, fresh leadership and a positive vision," the statement reads. "Dan is away for his grandmother’s ninetieth birthday. Given the number of twists and turns in this race so far, we don’t have any immediate response."
Of course, Baer, Kerr, state senator Dominick Moreno and state representative Brittany Pettersen would never have launched a bid for the 7th if Perlmutter hadn't decided to go for the governorship. In the beginning, he was the widely acknowledged frontrunner to replace outgoing guv John Hickenlooper. But then Congressman Jared Polis joined the fray — and made it clear that he was more than willing to spend some of his personal fortune on his effort. Shortly thereafter, Perlmutter pulled the plug, and while he wouldn't come right out and say that Polis's bankroll was the reason ("It wasn't Jared," he insisted last month after referring to a lack of "fire in the belly or gas in the tank"), most political observers believe finances were a big factor in his move.
Perlmutter's decision to eschew a re-election attempt appeared to be motivated at least in part by a reluctance to screw over the other Dems who wanted to step into his congressional shoes — especially Kerr, a close friend and confidant. After Perlmutter switched gears, Moreno and Pettersen quickly abandoned ship in order to stay in their present gigs. For Kerr, doing likewise was complicated by the fact that he's term-limited and must leave the state senate at the end of his current term. But political realities forced his hand, and today he released a Facebook video explaining his withdrawal. The transcript is below.
As for Baer, a cash windfall — he reportedly raised $300,000 in the first two weeks after declaring his candidacy — has bought him some time to reflect on what comes next. But with U.S. House seats at a premium for Democrats in Colorado and across the country, you can bet he'll be under heavy pressure from party powers to clear the field for Perlmutter, who remains very popular among his constituents even though his waffling will provide ammo for any future Republican opponents.
Here's Kerr's statement:
"I want to thank everyone who joined me in my campaign to represent Colorado’s seventh Congressional district.
"I appreciate every volunteer, supporter, staff member, and friend that gave their time and attention to making sure that we were successful in our effort to give hardworking Coloradans a voice in Washington.
"There’s good reason to be excited about Ed’s decision to run for Congress again. He’s a true-blue Coloradan that has spent more than a decade in Washington D.C fighting for our values and making sure that we have a strong advocate for Jefferson and Adams Counties.
"I know that Ed will continue to push back against President Trump and Paul Ryan’s regressive agenda, and champion progressive solutions. I hope you will join me in supporting him in his re-election.
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"I’ve devoted my career in public service to standing up for those who feel left out by our political system, and by our government. The people I am proud to represent are hardworking people looking for the opportunity to work at a job they feel pride in, start successful businesses, and simply save a little bit here and there for a vacation, or retirement, or into their kid’s college fund.
"Too many politicians forget the people who they're supposed to be fighting for. I never will.
"Lastly, I want to thank my family, and especially my wife Tammy, for supporting me in this race. Their love and dedication has meant the world to me. Thank you, I look forward to continuing working for the people of Colorado in my role as State Senator. It’s been an honor to have this opportunity."