LAKEWOOD– Joe Coors Jr., 69, great grandson of 19th-century beer-magnate Adolph Coors, formally announced today that he is running to unseat Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who is now serving his third term in Colorado’s seventh district.
In a windowless conference room at Red Rocks Community College, three miles from the site of the Coors brewery in Golden, Coors hit on familiar conservative themes for roughly 200 enthusiastic supporters, drawing a sketch of his work history and speaking in broad terms about the government and the economy. He said the country was on the wrong track, hobbled by debt and low job growth, and that he would put his years of private-sector experience to work to re-energize business and trim government.
“I am running for Congress because the American dream is rapidly vanishing as government expands its intrusion in our daily lives,” he said. “It is simply wrong for 12 million Americans to be out of work.”
Coors joins the ranks of Republican lawmakers and candidates who promote a policy of austerity as the best course of action in a sluggish economy. The best thing the government can do is to pay down government debt, he said.
“The federal government has dug a hole of debt that future generations may not be able to climb out of. This is unconscionable… The route to recovery is not through continued stimulus spending, which has not worked, but through free enterprise.”
He said real income for working Americans is the same now as it was in 1996 and that that stagnation is due mostly to taxes. Coors said he would seek to lower taxes even though tax rates in the United States are as low today as they ever have been in modern history.
Coors told the crowd they have two options this year.
“The first option is to continue the expansion of federal government both in size and scope, placing control of far too many decisions in the hands of bureaucrats. This is the voting record of the incumbent and the liberals in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
“I believe the best option is the second option: Free enterprise with limited government – that allows men and women to start and grow their businesses as large as their dreams will carry them. This formula has made our economy the largest in the world.
“This is what I will champion in Congress.”
Coors quoted John Kennedy’s famous New Frontier-era call on Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Coors said that in that context, Americans should look toward business.
“Businesses can do a lot for this country when they meet payrolls week in and week out,” he said.
Coors also staked ground on the religious right and against the alleged “class war” being waged by Democrats seeking to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. He used the Pledge of Allegiance to make his point.
“We’re one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” he said, and then added poignantly that he was “one candidate who will never be afraid to recognize this fact.”
Although the “under god” section of the Pledge has drawn fire on and off among atheist groups since it was added in 1954, Coors’ raising the notion that contemporary mainstream candidates for office, including Perlmutter, have seriously taken issue with the Pledge of Allegiance reference to god, suggests the kind of heated culture-war inflected campaign Coors may visit on the seventh district.
The Perlmutter campaign responded in the wake of the announcement with a release that underlined Coors’ wealth and his support for strict anti-abortion personhood laws, which would make illegal abortion in all cases and would even outlaw some of the most popular contraception, such as the pill.
“Ed looks forward to a spirited debate with Joe Coors. There couldn’t be a more stark contrast. You will have an ultra-wealthy, highly partisan candidate who fights for billionaire tax loopholes and Personhood Amendments against a man who holds meetings in local grocery stores, fights to create and save thousands of jobs in the 7th CD and has the least partisan congressional voting record in Colorado,” Perlmutter spokeswoman Leslie Oliver was quoted to say.
This is Coors’ first run at political office. In the rough biographical sketch he presented today, it seems clear he will seek to play down his inherited wealth and privilege. He said that when he married in college against the wishes of his father, he was effectively left to make his own way in the world. He said that instead of enjoying sumptuous dinners in aristocratic settings, he ate fried bread in his kitchen with his wife.
Coors said he worked in data management for a little more than a decade outside of the Coors family business before returning to run CoorsTek, or what was then Coors Porcelain. CoorsTek manufactures industrial ceramic products for labs and oil and gas and aerospace and aviation companies, for example. Coors said today that the company employs 3500 people in 14 countries and maintains 42 plants.
Coors has long been a darling of the right with his family’s long-established conservative credentials. Coors’ younger brother Pete ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, losing to Democrat Ken Salazar.
This latest Coors candidacy will fire-up the left. Activist group ProgressNow, for example, didn’t wait for an official announcement to begin rallying opposition to Coors.
“As an heir to the vast Coors fortune, and especially given the Coors family’s long history of lavish support for right-wing political groups, it’s absolutely vital that Joe Coors, Jr. fully disclose his sources of income, taxes paid on that income, and donations made to so-called ‘charities’–and that he do so for as many years in his past as possible,” Executive Director Joanne Kron was quoted to say in a release.
“The Coors family has donated millions of dollars over the years to such right-wing political groups as the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and “Super PAC” political attack group American Crossroads. These donations have been made both by individual Coors family members and family-controlled foundations like the Castle Rock Foundation.”
Coors and his family have a long history of political activism, some of it for far-right causes.
John Tomasic contributed to this report.