GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — Rep. Ed Perlmutter officially ended his campaign for Colorado governor on Tuesday three months after announcing it, saying he lacked "the fire in the belly" to campaign in an increasingly crowded Democratic primary field while also representing the Denver suburbs in Congress.
Once viewed as the Democratic front-runner for governor, Perlmutter said he will also not run for re-election to the House of Representatives because it'd be unfair to the three Democrats — whom he called friends — who already announced their candidacies for his seat after the congressman's gubernatorial kickoff in April.
"I thought I could do it all," he told a crowd of reporters and weeping volunteers crammed into his suburban campaign office. "I'm telling you, in front of you all, I can't."
Perlmutter acknowledged that his decision was forced by the surprise entry of Rep. Jared Polis into the Democratic primary last month. Polis is independently wealthy and can self-finance his campaign, increasing the pressure on others like Perlmutter to raise funds.
"I had to take a good look to see if I had enough fire in belly or gas in the tank," Perlmutter said after Polis' announcement. He quickly added that it wasn't Polis, whom he praised and called a friend, but other factors like the shooting and critical injuring of Rep. Steve Scalise at a practice for the House Republican baseball team last month that made him reassess the run.
Polis released a statement praising Perlmutter as "a tireless champion for working families" and another Democrat competing for the party's gubernatorial nomination, former state senator Mike Johnston, said "it was an honor to run alongside Ed Perlmutter." Former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy is also running on the Democratic side.
Republican candidates include George Brauchler, who prosecuted the Aurora theater shooter, and investment banker Doug Robinson, who is a nephew of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Perlmutter's district runs through Denver's moderate western suburbs. A tireless campaigner, he was considered a formidable potential statewide candidate by Democrats and Republicans alike. Polis' congressional district includes the progressive stronghold of Boulder and Republicans have contended he's too liberal for the state.
Three Democratic state legislators announced their candidacies to replace Perlmutter after he started his gubernatorial run. No major Republican has announced.