DENVER – Congressman Ed Perlmutter, the Democrat who represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, announced Monday he would not seek re-election for a ninth House term.
“I’ve never shied away from a challenge but it’s time for me to move on and explore other opportunities. There comes a time when you pass the torch to the next generation of leaders. I’m deeply gratified that our bench in the 7th District is deep and fortunately we have a strong group of leaders who are ready and able to take up that torch,” Perlmutter said in a statement.
Perlmutter first won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, defeating Republican Rick O’Donnell by nearly 13 percentage points. He won re-election every two years since then by at least 10 percentage points – most recently defeating Republican Casper Stockholm by more than 11 points in 2020 in the district comprised mostly of parts of Jefferson and Adams counties.
He is the 26th House Democrat so far to announce they are not seeking re-election in 2022.
More conservative areas of the mountains, including Lake, Park, Teller, Custer, Chaffee and Fremont counties, were drawn into the new 7th Congressional District during this year’s independent redistricting process, though Democrats are still favored in the district by about 7 percentage points, according to an average of past statewide elections the redistricting committee used. The district swung for Democrats by 10 percentage points in the 2020 Colorado U.S. Senate seat election, won by Sen. John Hickenlooper.
Perlmutter, a native of Jefferson County and a CU Boulder graduate, was a state senator from 1995 to 2003 and declared a bid for the governorship in 2017 before backing out of the race and seeking reelection to the House.
In November, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is responsible for trying to get Republicans elected to the House, said it was targeting Perlmutter’s district as among those they are trying to flip in the 2022 midterms to try and retake the House of Representatives. Colorado GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown said in a statement Monday that Perlmutter “knew that he was going to lose.”
In a news release, Perlmutter thanked his constituents for allowing him to represent them in what he called “the most beautiful district in America.” He also acknowledged that after redistricting that “the numbers are slightly tighter” but said he was confident “we will win.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat who previously served alongside Perlmutter as the representative for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, said Perlmutter called him Monday morning to tell him the news.
“Ed has been one of the most dedicated and effective fighters for our state. So my initial reaction was disappointment that Colorado is losing a fighter,” Polis said. “…But I wish him well in his personal career. I understand how difficult servicing Congress has become, and I know that Ed will succeed in whatever he tackles next. And he leaves big shoes to fill for the 7th Congressional District.”
During the Rules Committee meeting on Monday, several members spoke to Perlmutter's departure.
“He genuinely is a wonderful member of our body and this committee,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. said. “Somebody that honestly will be missed on both sides of the aisle.”
“Let it be known that the gentleman from Colorado spoke truth to power no matter who it was, including his own president,” Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif, said. “You will be missed, Mr. Perlmutter.”
According to Federal Election Commission records, only one other Democrat has so far signed up to run in the 7th Congressional District – Kyle Faust, who has not reported raising or spending any money. The two Republicans who have declared are Erik Aadland and Laurel Imer.
"Holding this seat is gonna be a lot of work, and I expect that the list of candidates that you’re looking at right now will change and probably grow over the week and over the next month. This is going to be one of the nationally most competitive congressional districts," said Morgan Carroll with the Colorado Democratic Party.
Perlmutter lauded his work on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and on growing the aerospace industry in his district, as well as his push to try and pass the SAFE Banking Act and allow marijuana businesses to do business with the federal banking system.
“I want to thank my wife Nancy, my family, my staff, my colleagues and especially my deepest gratitude goes to the people of Jefferson and Adams Counties for the honor of serving them in the U.S. House of Representatives all these years,” Perlmutter said. “The masthead of the Denver Post once said, “Tis a privilege to live in Colorado” and indeed it is. It’s been a privilege and honor of a lifetime to serve Colorado, the state I love and have always called home.”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.