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Meet two of the women running for the 7th Congressional District seat

Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced Monday he would not seek reelection
sen brittany pettersen
Posted at 11:10 AM, Jan 11, 2022

DENVER – State Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, will run for the 7th Congressional District seat, she announced Tuesday after incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced Monday he would not seek reelection.

Pettersen, 40, won her Senate District 22 seat in 2018 by more than 16 percentage points and served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2013 through 2018 in District 28 before that.

In announcing her candidacy Tuesday, she praised Perlmutter, the eight-term congressman.

“He has been a mentor and friend to countless Coloradans and set an example of a model public servant that is unfortunately far too rare in Washington these days,” Pettersen said. “Colorado is lucky to have benefited from Ed’s heart and dedication for so many years, and I am excited and ready to continue his legacy of fighting for the hardworking people of the new 7th District.”

Pettersen chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is the vice chair of the Transportation and Energy Committee. She was one of the sponsors of Colorado’s extreme risk protection order bill and has also passed laws surrounding equal pay, the opioid epidemic and mental health.

"It is going to be one of the most competitive races and my entire life I've been preparing for this moment," Pettersen said to Denver7 in an interview.

This will be the second time Pettersen has run for the 7th Congressional District seat. She did in 2017 as well for the 2018 cycle as Perlmutter worked on a bid for the governorship. But when he decided to drop out of that race and run for reelection again, she dropped out.

She raised more than $200,000 during her run and ended 2021 with just under $45,000 in congressional campaign account, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Pettersen is a Colorado native and grew up in Jefferson County. She was the first in her family to graduate high school, graduating from Chatfield High School, and then graduated from Metropolitan State University in Denver. She and her husband, Democratic strategist Ian Silverii, have a young son.

“Growing up, the odds were stacked against me, but thanks to the support of Jeffco public schools and teachers, I persevered. Now, I’m fighting to make sure future generations have that same chance,” Pettersen said.

If elected, she's promising to focus on kitchen table topics like affordable housing, cutting the costs of health care and education.

She also wants to work across the aisle and move Washington away from partisan politics, she said in an interview.

"We are facing challenging times. We need people who are going to bring folks together, to work across the aisle, to listen to people with different opinions, and actually work together to solve some problems, to make people's lives better," Pettersen said.

Two Republicans are already running for the seat: Erik Aadland and Laurel Imer. More Democrats and Republicans are expected to enter the respective primaries as well.

While Pettersen is new to the District 7 race, Laurel Imer has been campaigning for the seat for months.

The political newcomer tells Denver7 she has been working for years in the background of politics as a grassroots activist but ran for elected office the first time recently.

In 2020, Imer lost her race to unseat Democratic Rep. Monica Duran for a seat at the state legislature.

"I will be the conservative choice and the conservative voice for my party to represent Colorado," she said.

Imer describes herself as a firebrand Trump Republican who comes from an average background and who wants to put America first.

She worked for the Trump campaign for five years and was one of the state's presidential elector for the Republican party in 2016.

Imer sees Congressman Perlmutter's retirement as a good sign for newcomers like herself.

"I think that that is a benefit for all of us. It gives all of us maybe a better opportunity to speak and for the people to learn about us," she said.

She also hopes that having a wide open seat will help Republicans win back the district.

If elected, Imer's top issues are border security, human trafficking, election integrity and educational choice, she said.

While she says she is against conspiracy theories, she is against mail-in voting and wants to require in-person voting once again. She also wants to change the process so that votes are only counted on election day.

Colorado has widely been considered a model for the country when it comes to mail-in voting and election security.

On the education front, Imer says she wants to bring parental choice back into the classroom and do away with critical race theory. Colorado K-12 schools do not teach critical race theory.

Imer is also promising not to compromise her conservative values or try to be a middle-of-the-road candidate.

"We don't need to be civil if we're doing what's right for our citizens. When we're blatantly making policy decisions that hurt American citizens, then there's a reason that that becomes a deep divide," Imer said. "I think that there is a time and an opportunity for a bipartisan representation where we reach across the aisle and we tried to make things work, but I'm not going to set up our my constituents and my state for failure."

Imer's 17-year-old son is currently her campaign manager.

Democrats are still favored in the district by about 7 percentage points in the newly drawn 7th district, 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 said Monday he believed the bench of Democratic candidates in the 7th was “deep” and that “we have a strong group of leaders who are ready and able to take up that torch.”