DENVER– During the opening of his campaign field office in Golden on Saturday, Seventh District Congressman Ed Perlmutter told a crowd of about 60 volunteers that it would be a tough reelection this year due not primarily to anti-incumbent sentiment but because, in an off-year after a Democratic presidential win, Republican voters seemed more motivated to turn out at the polls.
“I think we are on the tougher side of cycle, because we are in the midterm after an election of a new Democratic President,” Perlmutter told the Colorado Independent. “Republicans are trying to [generate] a lot of energy among their ranks and that is something we’ve got to be aware of and concerned about.”
Despite a recent Rasmussen poll showing 75 percent of mainstream voters would prefer to see all members Congress voted out this year, Perlmutter said he’s not concerned. He said it has been primarily Republican incumbents who have been ousted by divisions among the party ranks.
“Incumbency brings with it some positives… They are going to try to use my incumbency as a detriment not a benefit,” he said but explained that he will be deomstrating the ways heis office has served the people of Colorado. The real tension behind all of the news stories, he said, is not about incumbency but about the war going on between the Republican grassroots and the Republican Party establishment.
“It is Republicans who seem to be seeing a lot of turmoil. Party activists have been wanting new people and establishment folks within the party want a whole other group. We see it in the U.S. Senate race between Ken Buck and Jane Norton. We actually saw it in the Governor’s race the other day when McInnis didn’t get top line [on the primary ballot], which I think shocked everybody.”
He said he is ready to stand on his record and said that, although jobs remain the most important topic on his list, he is proud of the bills he is currently working on.
He said he is looking for bipartisan support on the bill he’s co-sponsoring to increase oil companies’ liability in the case of disastrous spills such as the recent British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Perlmutter said his “Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act” (HR 5214) sets the liability reserve at $10 billion for oil companies in order to address spills. “It was set at $75 million,” Perlmutter said. “We can see by this terrible tragedy that already in the Gulf now it is tens of billions.” He said the bill would likely face its real challenge in the Senate.
“The pollution coming off the spill has made people sit up and take notice again and say ‘Wait, there really is a growing and needed role for renewable energy and energy efficiency.'”
Perlmutter said this kind of legislation wasn’t about punishing the oil and gas industry. He said it was about safeguarding the American taxpayer. Perlmutter said he worked with oil and gas industry in the State Senate to ensure that bills did not have unforeseen consequences and supported a comprehensive “all of the above” energy policy, but he said that as the Chairman of the Renewable Energy Caucus in the State Legislature, he grew most passionate about renewable energy. “It is what I do in Congress.”
Perlmutter was a trustee of the Midwest Research Institute, which is the operator of the National Renewable Energy Lab a leading new energy research center and a significant employer in his district.
Perlmutter called his campaign a team effort and many in the room told stories about the influence of his office on the community.
“When I can look somebody in the eyes and know that I have helped them in some fashion, that I have helped them cut through red tape, to give them an idea they didn’t have before that advances things for them, that is what this job is all about,” Perlmutter told the crowd.
Supporter Cindy Avrum said Perlmutter was not as liberal as she would like but that his “honesty and support for the Veterans Administration” has made her a long time volunteer.
Perlmutter will face either Republican Ryan Frazier or Lang Sias in November.