Perlmutter head over heels after election victory

Republican Coors left in dregs after fizzling campaign
The Colorado Statesman

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter was turning cartwheels after roundly defeating Republican challenger Joe Coors to win a fourth term representing Colorado’s 7th Congressional District on Tuesday.

Performing what has become a Perlmutter trademark — he embraced the move during his last campaign after an attack ad accused him of cartwheeling around Washington, D.C. — the Democrat went head over heels on election night in front of a room full of supporters at the Lakewood Sheraton and then again two days later at the State Capitol at Democratic caucus meetings.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter thanks supporters as his wife, Nancy, stands beside him on Nov. 6 after defeating Republican challenger Joe Coors.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“This thing, we couldn’t have won without everybody pitching in and working and working, and it all added up, and it added up to a lot of big wins,” an ecstatic Perlmutter told a packed ballroom at a Democratic election night watch party in Denver after the race had been called and he had received what he described as a “gracious” concession call from Coors.

In what was supposed to be one of the night’s closest races, Perlmutter pulled ahead by a wide margin as soon as early and mail ballot totals were posted and his lead only increased through the night. The final, unofficial returns in the suburban district had Perlmutter with 175,948 votes, or 53.44 percent, over 134,812 votes for Coors, or 40.95 percent.

The race between the two candidates, who are neighbors and whose families have long known each other — Perlmutter once hired Coors’ daughter to work at his law firm and Coors relatives are godparents to one of Perlmutter’s daughters — turned vicious over the summer. The Coors campaign and outside groups hammered Perlmutter as a free-spending liberal and lobbed charges against his ex-wife for lobbying activity, while the Perlmutter campaign and outside groups painted Coors as an out-of-touch plutocrat who outsourced jobs when he was CEO of the Golden-based CoorsTek company.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and his wife, Nancy, celebrate his win over Republican challenger Joe Coors on Nov. 6 at the Democrats’ state election night watch party in Denver.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Outspent by some $1.5 million — the Coors campaign reported that the candidate poured some $3.5 million of the candidate’s own money into the race — Perlmutter prevailed by a roughly 10-point margin in the district’s Jefferson County precincts and ran ahead by roughly 17 points in the Adams County portion.

Perlmutter’s 12.5-percent victory margin is wider than the one he posted in the last election, when he defeated Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier by an 11-percent margin in a year when Republicans threw out two Democratic incumbents. Perlmutter achieved his win in a redrawn district that strategists describe as 4 points less favorable to Democrats than the old 7th CD.

“It was a decisive victory and it shows that, again, when you walk, you win,” said Perlmutter spokeswoman Leslie Oliver. “Ed is relentless in his commitment to connecting with people in the district, and it shows. That’s not an election-year or political thing — that’s just Ed, that’s who he is. And that’s what this election showed.”

Saying he was “humbled” by the outpouring of support by volunteers and voters, Coors called the campaign a “great experience” and said he was struck by what he learned from voters he met on the campaign trail.

“While everyone had a different story to tell, many faced similar difficulties,” he wrote in a letter to supporters. “They faced uncertainty, fear and doubt about the future of our country. The urgency of saving the American Dream became clearer to me with every person I met throughout this past year.”

His campaign, Coors said, sent a message to Washington that government spending doesn’t create jobs. “I believe they heard us and I am hopeful they will correct the path we’ve been on,” he concluded.

Perlmutter boasted that he walked more than 800 miles during the campaign — logged by an electronic device he wears on his wrist that updates to his website — and vowed to continue “showing up for the people of the 7th CD.”

“I’m going to keep being the same guy I’ve always been — an accessible, available, effective voice for our district, state, and nation. As Coloradans, we know we work better when we work together, and that’s why I’m going to keep working in a bipartisan way to move us forward toward a strong, stable, and secure economy that is built to last,” he said.

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com