Just over a month after Ed Perlmutter dropped out of the 2018 race for Colorado governor and announced that he wouldn't seek reelection to Congress in the state's 7th Congressional District, he has changed his mind. Perlmutter has now declared that he will indeed make a bid to stay in Congress, contradicting earlier statements about making room for new blood.
"There are a lot of good people in my race, for my congressional seat," Perlmutter said at a July 11 news conference. "We have three very good candidates.... Sometimes you need to move on and somebody else needs to come in."
The trio of Andy Kerr and Dominick Moreno, both state senators, and state rep Brittany Pettersen — recently joined by career diplomat Dan Baer — are now out of luck, and in a statement about his reversal of course, Perlmutter struck an apologetic tone.
"I’ve talked to Andy, Brittany, Dominick and corresponded with Dan about my decision," Perlmutter is quoted as saying. "They are all wonderful people, and I know for them and some others my decision is not convenient or well timed, for which I’m sorry. But I know I have more to do and more to give to the people of the 7th District. I understand this is not an ideal situation — I really do — but I know we can all work together to fight for our Colorado way of life."
Perlmutter's move was foreshadowed on August 11 by Colorado Politics' Peter Marcus in a piece headlined "Colorado U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is reconsidering a re-election bid." But even with this heads-up, the development is jaw-slackening for longtime observers of Colorado politics given Perlmutter's reputation as a steady, solid presence not known for flightiness or ambiguity.
Then again, his quick departure from the governor's contest contradicted his past behavior, too. He entered the campaign as the favorite to take the Democratic nomination. But shortly after he stepped into the ring, fellow Congressman Jared Polis did so, too — and his pledge to self-finance part of his campaign from his personal fortune appears to have made Perlmutter think twice.
Not that he admitted as much during the aforementioned press conference. "Jared's a good friend of mine," Perlmutter stressed. "We've served together eight, nine years, and honestly, when he got in, I had to take a good look deep down and ask what it was going to take to win this race and to serve full-time — to raise the kind of money you need for a statewide governor's race and to get around the state. I had to take a good look to see if I had enough fire in the belly or gas in the tank or whatever you want to call it to get that done. I had to take a good, realistic look at it. But it wasn't Jared. We agree on most things. We disagree on a few things. But it wasn't that. It was a decision to take a good look at what's going on and actually to continue to fulfill the commitment I made to the people of Jefferson County and Adams County who reelected me."
He also insisted that he didn't know what he would do in early 2019, when he expected to complete his congressional duties: "I've got eighteen months to think about it.... I'm going to have time to consider that." But he said he still felt a responsibility to fight for his beliefs — "so maybe I'm moving from player to coach. I'm not exactly sure."
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Now he knows. "Over the last few weeks, a lot has happened, both for me and in the world," he pointed out in another section of his statement. "I’ve taken some time to regroup and recharge, and in so doing I’ve had many meaningful conversations with friends, neighbors, supporters and family who have encouraged me to run again. I have appreciated each and every conversation. It has made me take time to reflect on the future. And I’ve come to the conclusion to run again for re-election. To ask the hardworking people of the 7th District to once again put their trust in me to be their voice in Washington. I care deeply for our state, and I love my home, which is here in the 7th District."
It's unclear how much lead time Perlmutter's staff had to deal with the fallout from this shift. But at this writing, the most recent post on the Facebook page for "Ed Perlmutter, Political Candidate," is this item from July 11:
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve realized the demands of running for governor and of serving in Congress were going to take more from me than I can give.
The democratic primary field is crowded, and whether I am in the race or not, primary voters will have a choice among a number of qualified candidates and I wish them all the best of luck. I do not plan to be a candidate for office in 2018. For the next 18 months my focus will continue to be on serving the people of the 7th Congressional District, whom I can’t thank enough for their support and trust in me over the years.
To my wife Nancy, my family, dear friends and supporters, I want to thank you for your unwavering support. I know this decision is disappointing to many of you, it is for me too. But I know it is the best course forward.
As I’ve said many times, ‘Tis a privilege to live in Colorado’ and I truly believe that.