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Colorado - 7th District

Incumbent -- Ed Perlmutter (D) ; Running for re-election

Leans Democratic
Race Ratings Key

Updated Dec. 8, 2009

The prospect of incumbent Perlmutter as a prohibitive favorite to win a third term in 2010 was not what was anticipated by those who drew the 7th District map at the start of this decade. The 7th was created after fast-growing Colorado gained a seat in the reapportionment that followed the 2000 census. While most of the nation's congressional districts favor one party or the other, the suburban Denver 7th was drawn with the intent of producing highly competitive elections.

That's the way it worked -- for a while. The Republicans had the upper hand in the first two elections following redistricting, with Bob Beauprez winning in 2002 and 2004. But the Democratic trend that took hold nationally and in Colorado was strongly felt in the 7th District. Beauprez left the seat open in 2006 for a gubernatorial bid that failed, and his seat was claimed by Democrat Perlmutter, a former state senator who broke open what appeared to be a tight race and defeated his Republican opponent by a 13 percentage-point margin.

Perlmutter then took a big leap forward in 2008 when he trounced an unheralded Republican challenger by 27 points, while Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama also dominated the district's vote.

Perlmutter thus enters the 2010 campaign with a strong advantage that is reinforced by solid fundraising, as he reported $912,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. But he has drawn a challenge from Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, who initially announced a bid for Colorado's 2010 Republican Senate nomination but switched to the 7th District race in October.

The prospect of incumbent Perlmutter as a prohibitive favorite to win a third term in 2010 was not what was anticipated by those who drew the 7th District map at the start of this decade. The 7th was created after fast-growing Colorado gained a seat in the reapportionment that followed the 2000 census. While most of the nation's congressional districts favor one party or the other, the suburban Denver 7th was drawn with the intent of producing highly competitive elections.

That's the way it worked -- for a while. The Republicans had the upper hand in the first two elections following redistricting, with Bob Beauprez winning in 2002 and 2004. But the Democratic trend that took hold nationally and in Colorado was strongly felt in the 7th District. Beauprez left the seat open in 2006 for a gubernatorial bid that failed, and his seat was claimed by Democrat Perlmutter, a former state senator who broke open what appeared to be a tight race and defeated his Republican opponent by a 13 percentage-point margin.

Perlmutter then took a big leap forward in 2008 when he trounced an unheralded Republican challenger by 27 points, while Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama also dominated the district's vote.

Perlmutter thus enters the 2010 campaign with a strong advantage that is reinforced by solid fundraising, as he reported $912,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. But he has drawn a challenge from Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, who initially announced a bid for Colorado's 2010 Republican Senate nomination but switched to the 7th District race in October.

Also seeking the GOP nod is Lang Sias, a lawyer and military veteran who oversaw veterans outreach efforts for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. And Jimmy Lakey, who owns concert promotion and artist management companies, has formed an "exploratory committee" to prepare for a possible bid.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Surrounding Denver (and the 1st District) on three sides, the suburban 7th includes parts of Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, with nearly half of its residents in Jefferson. Commerce City, north of Denver in Adams, and most of Aurora (shared with the 6th), in Arapahoe, are also in the 7th. Minorities account for more than two-fifths of the population, giving the district the second-highest percentage in the state.

The 7th's portion of Jefferson includes Golden, most of Arvada and Lakewood. The county relies on federal government jobs -- Lakewood, a middle class area just west of Denver is home to the Denver Federal Center's 55 federal buildings and more than 6,000 employees, and Golden hosts the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The district's decommissioned military facilities have received new life, as the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center has been revived by the University of Colorado Denver to serve as the region's health industry anchor with several hospital and research facilities. Also, the former weapons-producing Rocky Mountain Arsenal is now a national wildlife refuge and the largest contiguous open space in the Denver area. Buckley Air Force Base remains a link in the Air Force Space Command satellite tracking system.

The 7th has been politically competitive for the decade since it was created following the 2000 census. Recent federal elections suggest that the district leans Democratic despite the close registration split between Democrats (38 percent) and Republicans (34 percent) and a large number of independents.

Major Industry

Health care, aerospace, manufacturing, telecommunications

Military bases

Buckley Air Force Base, 3,157 military, 2,390 civilian (2011)

cities

Aurora (pt.), 212,965; Lakewood (pt.), 142,871; Arvada (pt.), 98,107; Commerce City, 45,913; Brighton (pt.), 33,009

Notable

The MillerCoors brewery in Golden features free tours and tastings; Commerce City is home to the Colorado Rapids soccer stadium.

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