Longtime Congressman Ed Perlmutter was met with blue skies, a warm sun and about 200 supporters in south Golden as he officially announced his race to become Colorado's next governor.
Perlmutter's long-suspected announcement on April 9 was held in the parking lot of a Natural Grocers, with South Table Mountain serving as a backdrop and a talking point. In emphasizing his support for environmental protection, Perlmutter talked about how, as a state legislator in the 1990s, he had supported efforts to keep South Table Mountain from being developed, eventually seeing the land become an Open Space park.
"That G up there?" Perlmutter said, gesturing to the painted letter on the side of the mountain. "It stands for Golden, but I think it stands for Governor, too."
Born and raised in Jefferson County, Perlmutter graduated from Jefferson High School in Edgewater. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He practiced business law with a local firm for 25 years. He served in the Colorado Senate from 1995-2003, and in 2006 was elected to the 7th Congressional District. He is in his sixth term representing the district, which covers much of Jefferson County, including Golden, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and Arvada, as well as much of Westminster, Thornton and Northglenn.
During his speech, Perlmutter touted his congressional support for the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, the Orion Project that supports many Colorado jobs and the embattled VA Medical Center in Aurora, scheduled to open in 2018 and expected to improve medical care for veterans across the region.
“And now we’ve begun to see part of Colorado’s way of life and economy threatened by the Trump Administration when it comes to the environment, public lands, immigration, health care and our national labs," said Perlmutter, adding that he believes the states represent the best opportunity to serve as a check and balance to the presidency.
Tempering the Trump criticism, Perlmutter and his supporters mentioned his reputation for bipartisanship.
State Senate minority leader Lucia Guzman kicked off the rally, talking about Perlmutter's bipartisan track record and ability to get things done.
"Coloradoans deserve leadership, not partisanship," Perlmutter said as part of his closing remarks, saying that he had always tried to serve his constituents, no matter their party affiliation.
Perlmutter joins a crowded race for the governorship in 2018, which now includes more than a dozen candidates.
Notable on the Republican side is District Attorney George Brauchler of the 18th Judicial District, which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Businessman Victor Mitchell, a Castle Rock resident who served in the state House from 2007-09, also has filed for the race. Mitchell runs Lead Funding, an organization that offers financing options for homebuilders and developers.
Aside from Perlmutter, the Democrats in the race with the most name recognition are former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy. Johnston is a Denver resident who served in the state Senate from 2009-16, and before that, was a teacher and principal. Kennedy, of Denver, was elected treasurer in 2006 and lost a re-election bid in 2010. In 2011, she was appointed the City of Denver's chief financial officer and its deputy mayor, and she continued in those capacities until 2016.
Four of the past five governors have been Democrats. Governor John Hickenlooper was elected to the position in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He is term limited.
At the rally, "Perlmutter for Colorado" signs were handed out to spectators, but a few brought their own signs, mostly addressing health care. Joyce Richardson of Arvada held up a bed sheet painted with "Healthcare is a human right."
"We wanted to make sure that he knows we support Medicare for all, the same for anyone who takes his spot, too," she said.
A former RTD regional representative, Tom Tobissen, who identified himself as "a big fan of Ed's," also came to support the congressman. He said he got to know Perlmutter when the 7th Congressional District used to include his portion of Aurora. He also worked with him to support light rail.
"Ed's been an asset to the region, and the state," Tobissen said.