DENVER (AP) — Six-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is entering Colorado's race for governor in 2018, saying he can do more for Colorado at home than he can in Washington.
Perlmutter formally announced his candidacy at a rally Sunday in Golden, Colorado, and quickly established himself as the front-runner in the Democratic primary. Colorado's Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, is stepping down because of term limits.
Perlmutter, whose competitive Jefferson County district is home to private aerospace firms and federal research laboratories, said it's getting tougher to get things done in the nation's capital.
"The Trump administration, coupled with the gridlock that exists in Congress, really is causing things to go backward," Perlmutter said in an interview. "I feel I can provide more service and leadership at home than I can in Washington."
"The Republican Party can't agree with itself right now. When the majority party is kind of in a chaotic state, nothing moves," he said.
Perlmutter cited Trump administration rollbacks of environmental rules and protections as well as possible cutbacks in climate change and renewable energy research at the federal labs in his district. "I think that there is a check and balance that the state of Colorado and other states can provide in contrast to this administration," he said.
Perlmutter, 63, said his priorities as governor would include public education, affordable housing, modernizing state highways and expanding the economic growth of metropolitan areas straddling the Interstate 25 corridor to other parts of the state.
His candidacy creates the possibility that a Republican could capture Colorado's 7th Congressional District, though two Democratic state lawmakers already have indicated they will run.
Republicans have a 4-3 edge in Colorado's congressional delegation. Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner hold its Senate seats.
Colorado's Democratic gubernatorial primary opened up after former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he wasn't running. In the mix are former state Sen. Mike Johnston and Denver entrepreneur Noel Ginsburg. Former state treasurer Cary Kennedy said Sunday she will formally declare her candidacy Monday.
George Brauchler, the Republican district attorney who prosecuted Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, leads the GOP field. Other possible candidates include state treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Kent Thiry, chief executive officer of Davita HealthCare Partners.
An attorney and former state senator, Perlmutter was first elected to Congress in 2006. His district, which incorporates Denver's western and northern suburbs, was once solidly Republican but is now considered a bellwether on how Colorado votes — a place where independent voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans.
He's a member of the House Science, Space and Technology and Financial Services committees and has sought to allow cash-only marijuana firms access to the banking system. The federal government has denied that access to firms in states that have legalized medical or recreational pot because it considers marijuana illegal.
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