Perlmutter officially launches bid for reelection

Apple pie and other goodies, but no Coors beer
The Colorado Statesman

The only thing missing was a round of fireworks. It was an all-American bash — complete with an apple pie, politicians’ speeches and a rosy-cheeked barbershop quartet singing patriotic tunes — as U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Golden Democrat, formally launched his bid for a fourth term in Congress last Saturday afternoon at his campaign’s new field offices in Wheat Ridge.

Perlmutter, who won reelection handily against formidable GOP nominee Ryan Frazier during the Republican wave of 2010, is facing Golden businessman Joe Coors in a battle to represent the redrawn 7th Congressional District, covering northern Jefferson County and western Adams County.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Golden Democrat, welcomes supporters to his campaign kick-off on May 12 at new field offices in the Applewood Village shopping center. Perlmutter is facing a challenge by Republican nominee Joe Coors in the redrawn district, which encompasses northern Jefferson and western Adams counties.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Trumpeting his dogged pursuit of a new veteran’s medical center under construction at the former Fitzsimons Army Hospital campus in Aurora — an accomplishment he readily acknowledged owed a debt to congressional Republicans and Democrats alike over the years — Perlmutter laid out some of the themes of his campaign.

Members of the Mantastic 4, Arvada West High School’s “badass” barbershop quartet, serenade the crowd with the national anthem at the opening of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s campaign field office on May 12 in the Applewood shopping center. The group’s members are baritone Nick Miller, bass Connor Bottke, lead Brendan Schuster and tenor Alex Cottingham.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“It fulfills a promise we’ve made to our veterans for several decades,” he told a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters. “And it’s a lot of jobs — over the course of the next three years, there will be some 10,000 construction workers on that job. It is a huge project, the biggest construction project in Colorado.”

During a recent visit to the construction site, he said, he looked down and saw a sign left by a construction worker: “If you think you’ve made an accomplishment, remember, you didn’t do it alone. Somebody helped you,” it read.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall speaks to U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, wearing one of his own campaign T-shirts, at a celebration launching Perlmutter’s reelection efforts.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“That’s what this race, that’s what this election is all about,” Perlmutter said. “We do better together than we do apart.”

Then he told a well-worn story gleaned during a recent trip to Iwo Jima, accompanying veterans of the iconic World War II battle for control of the Pacific island.

A veteran who made the trip with Perlmutter recounted how he’d entered the service with few prospects, but after the war was over, the government had helped pave the way toward a prosperous and fulfilling career.

State Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, and state Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, catch up at the launch of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s campaign on May 12 in an Applewood shopping center.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Relating the veteran’s account, Perlmutter said, “‘I fought for this country, and this country fought for me. Without the Veterans Administration, without the government, without the help of the G.I. Bill, without the platform that this country gives for all of us to succeed, I’d have had nothing. This country, and Democrats especially, helped get that V.A. going, helped get that G.I. Bill done, and gave us this platform so I could succeed,’” he finished, and then spun out his political lesson.

Adams County district attorney candidate Dave Young and Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, who is running for reelection, talk prosecution at the opening of the congressional campaign field offices of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Golden Democrat.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“That’s what this election is about,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We need to reignite our American Dream, and we really need to provide that opportunity.”

The packed offices — covering an entire floor on the lower level at the Applewood Village shopping center, also home to Applejack Liquors — included so many current and former elected officials and candidates that Perlmutter spent nearly 10 minutes introducing them, and still missed a few. Included in the crowd of legislators, county commissioners, mayors and city councilors were what seemed like a dozen district attorneys at one stage or another in their careers, prompting Perlmutter to crack, “You’d better not break the law while you’re here.”

Among the luminaries was U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who praised Perlmutter as “a lawyer with a heart.” Perlmutter, he said, “sues and he litigates for all we hold dear, whether it’s Social Security, Medicare, civil liberties, an equal opportunity for everybody.”

Perlmutter also introduced a field organizer for the Obama campaign, adding that the crowd was standing in a joint office his campaign was sharing with the president’s reelection effort.

“I really do believe the better the president does, the better I do. The better I do, the better our state legislative candidates will do,” Perlmutter said.

Ben Lazarus, an OFA field organizer for the area, asked the assembled Democrats to consider housing Obama volunteers sometime between now and the election, which he promised would be every bit as hard-fought as anticipated.

“Every time you turn on the TV from now until the election, you’re going to see these smears coming from these Super PACs, and it’s going to be unrelenting,” he said, referencing the huge sums of third-party spending already inundating the state. “The other thing I can promise you is,” he added, “is that if we build the kind of grassroots organization the people in this room have built before, we’ll beat back that money and we will win.”
The Perlmutter campaign’s new field office — he’s kept the same permanent headquarters in a nearby office building since his first campaign — is just a stone’s throw from the quarters Perlmutter occupied in previous campaigns and that, in itself, has turned into something of a campaign issue, albeit mildly tongue-in-cheek, between the Perlmutter and Coors camps.

It seems the Coors operation swooped in several months ago and leased Perlmutter’s former field offices, in what was once a bicycle store next to a Dairy Queen, and the Republican points this out at every opportunity.

“We took away his campaign office in January and, with your help, we’re going to take away his office in Washington, D.C., in November,” Coors tells appreciative crowds in what has become a standing line in his stump speech.

“They’re welcome to it,” chided a Perlmutter spokeswoman this week. “There’s no parking, there’s not much room, and they’re paying a lot more for that space than we are.”

About a month ago, Democrats gleefully pointed out that the Coors campaign had spent five figures “redecorating” the campaign office, according to Coors’ financial disclosure statement. It was a jab slipped into a routine attack on the retired CEO for pouring more than $200,000 into his own campaign coffers during the year’s first quarter, disputing the Coors campaign’s boasts about “broad-based” support when he reported contributions totaling nearly $450,000.

Let’s not be childish, the Coors campaign responded, noting that most of the sum went to re-carpeting the place, throwing up a few cubicles and slapping on a fresh coat of paint — hardly the gold-plated, walnut-burled interior Democrats were implying.

“The place was a dump,” a Perlmutter aide acknowledged, “but it was a campaign office, we weren’t looking at the surroundings, we were contacting voters.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com