DENVER — The announcement came as a surprise, but dropping out of the gubernatorial race and deciding not to run again for the 7th Congressional District of Colorado is a decision Ed Perlmutter has been weighing since his fellow Congressman Steve Scalise was shot in June.
"I know when Steve Scalise was shot, that had a lot to do with it," Perlmutter said Tuesday after news broke on Monday that he was planning to cancel his campaign.
In the emotional 10:30 a.m. press conference, Perlmutter said it came down to both "time and energy," and he decided to devote all he has left of both to his last 18 months serving as a U.S. Congressman representing Colorado.
"It takes time, it takes money, it takes energy, and putting that together, I found looking down deep, it was going to be a tough row to hoe," Perlmutter said.
He admitted financials were a factor, noting constraints to fundraising in Colorado. He also referenced his independently wealthy friend and would-be Democratic foe Rep. Jared Polis, who represents Colorado's 2nd Congressional District and is also running for governor.
"Jared is a good friend of mine, we've served together ... I don't think anybody should hold it against him that he's super smart and has made a lot of money, but that's the bottom line," Perlmutter said.
When asked why he wouldn't seek re-election for his Congressional seat, Perlmutter simply said his friends are already invested in the race.
"There are a lot of good people in my race, too many, actually. We have three good candidates, and you really only need one," Perlmutter said. "Sometimes you need to move on and somebody else needs to bring in new insights."
A host of Democrats had already announced their candidacy to try and fill Perlmutter’s seat in the state’s 7th Congressional District, including state Rep. Brittany Pettersen and state Sen. Andy Kerr.
With his 18 months left in office, Perlmutter said he has three goals: Make sure the VA hospital is finished and is a fine medical service provider for veterans, prioritize aerospace progress and ensure Lockheed has what it needs to make the Orion project succeed and align federal marijuana laws to Colorado rules.
"I'm going to work my fanny off to get them done," Perlmutter said, noting he recognizes the difficulties he faces as a Democrat in a Republican Congress under a Trump White House. "I'm going to make the best of it that I can."
Perlmutter, who is in his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, imparted some wisdom on those who will fill positions he once sought.
"People want to like you, they want to trust you, they want to know that you are working for them," Perlmutter said. "They aren't expecting you to be a rocket scientist, but they want to know you're looking out for them and their families."
Perlmutter promised the Coloradans he's served for so long that he will not disappear, even if he is taking a hiatus from politics.
"I love this state, I love the people of this state, and I love the people of this country, and I'm going to do what I can to keep it on the right track," Perlmutter said.