Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: May 1, 1953, Denver .
Education: U. of CO, B.A. 1975, J.D. 1978.
Family: Divorced; 3 children.
Elected office: CO Senate, 1994-2002.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1979-2006.
The congressman from the 7th District is Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat elected in 2006. He grew up in Jefferson County, walking precincts with his father on Democratic campaigns. He attended the University of Colorado and earned a law degree in 1978, and then went into private practice. In 1994, a bad political year for Democrats, Perlmutter won election to the state Senate from a northern Jefferson County district that had not elected a Democrat in nearly 30 years. In the Legislature, where he gained a reputation as a mediator, he chaired the renewable energy caucus and worked on legislation protecting consumer rights and promoting responsible growth. He won a second term in 1998 and served two years as Senate president pro tem, then retired from the chamber in 2002, when term limits forced him from office. Perlmutter was considered the early frontrunner for the newly created 7th District, but he opted not to run in 2002, citing the time it would take him away from his three daughters. The new district elected Republican Bob Beauprez by just 121 votes. When Beauprez ran for governor in 2006, Democrats immediately touted it as one of their top pickup opportunities. This time, Perlmutter got into the race.
|Ed Perlmutter (D)||173,931||(63%)||($1,276,238)|
|John Lerew (R)||100,055||(37%)||($37,121)|
|Ed Perlmutter (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (55%)
His most significant primary opposition came from Peggy Lamm, a former state representative who used to be the sister-in-law of former Democratic Gov. Richard Lamm. Perlmutter criticized Lamm’s ties to the gun lobby and her support for Republican Bill Owens for governor in 2002. At a time when gas prices were nearing $3 a gallon, Lamm pointed to Perlmutter’s sponsorship of an oil and gas bill to portray him as beholden to those interests. Perlmutter campaigned in favor of embryonic-stem cell research, and in his first commercial, his oldest daughter talked about how stem-cell research might find a cure for her epilepsy. EMILY’s List endorsed Lamm, but she trailed Perlmutter in fundraising. Perlmutter won the primary by a solid 53%-38%.
In the general election, he faced Republican Rick O’Donnell, a rising Republican star who left his post as executive director of the Colorado Higher Education Department to run. At a time of multiple ethics scandals in Congress, O’Donnell argued that Perlmutter’s marriage to a Denver lobbyist for a D.C.-based lobbying firm would lead to conflicts of interest, an argument Lamm had also made in the primary. Perlmutter seized on an article that O’Donnell had written 11 years earlier that called for abolishing Social Security. The two candidates also debated illegal immigration: Perlmutter supported a guest-worker program for immigrants, while O’Donnell opposed it. By October the two were closely matched in fundraising, each with well over $2 million. However, the strength of Perlmutter’s candidacy, Beauprez’s poor showing in the governor’s race, and Bush’s unpopularity all worked against O’Donnell. A week before the election, national Republicans redirected funding reserved for him to shore up the re-election of nearby Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. But national Democrats continued to spend heavily on the race, to the tune of $2 million. Perlmutter won by 55%-42%. He carried Jefferson County by nearly 15,000 votes, 55%-43%.
In the House, Perlmutter was the first member of the Colorado delegation to support withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2008. Inspired by his daughter’s struggles with epilepsy, he won passage of a bill creating epilepsy centers for returning combat veterans. In sync with local interests, he sponsored a bill to offer incentives to lenders who create a market for green buildings. On the Financial Services Committee, he also worked to add protections for taxpayers to the $700-billion government bailout of Wall Street and the financial markets.
In 2008, Perlmutter was re-elected easily against political novice John Lerew, with more than 60% in each of the district’s three counties. He spent much of his campaign time in 2008 helping Barack Obama and Democratic Rep. Mark Udall, who was running for the Senate from Colorado.