Top Colorado Democrat announces retirement from the House—for the second time

Republicans will have a tough time putting this seat into play, though it could be worth watching in a strong GOP year. State Rep. Colin Larson told the Sun he was considering running, declaring, “I’ll make a final decision and announcement soon.” Larson bragged, “I’m the last Republican elected official in Jefferson County at the state or federal level, and I know how to fight and win here,” though at just 49-48 Biden, his current state House district is far less blue than the open 7th is.

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While Democrats start the contest favored to keep this constituency blue, the area was much more competitive when the congressman first got involved in politics. Perlmutter first won elected office in 1994 when his victory for a state Senate seat in northern Jefferson County, which came despite that year’s historic GOP landslide, made him the first Democrat to represent the district in three decades.

Perlmutter was termed-out in 2002, and most observers anticipated that he’d run for the newly-created 7th Congressional District, a suburban Denver constituency that had supported Al Gore by a tiny 50-49 spread two years before. He decided to sit out the race, though, which Republican Bob Beauprez ended up taking by a 121-vote margin.

Perlmutter got another chance in 2006, however, when Beauprez opted to wage what would turn into a disastrous bid for governor. Perlmutter comfortably won the Democratic nod 53-38 by defeating former state Rep. Peggy Lamm, the sister-in-law of ex-Gov. Dick Lamm, though it initially looked like he’d be in for a tough general election fight in a district that had backed John Kerry in the most recent presidential election by a close 51-48 spread.

Republican Rick O’Donnell, who was a former state higher education commissioner, raised a comparable amount of money to Perlmutter, though outside Democratic groups enjoyed a big spending advantage over their GOP counterparts and eviscerated O’Donnell for an article he’d written a decade earlier titled, “For Freedom’s Sake: Eliminate Social Security.” Ultimately, the strong political climate, as well as the area’s continuing shift to the left, helped propel Perlmutter to a lopsided 55-42 win.

The new congressman had no trouble in 2008 as Barack Obama was carrying his seat 59-40, but he faced a serious challenge two years later as things soured for his party nationally. National Republicans were enthusiastic about Aurora City Council member Ryan Frazier, who would have been Colorado’s first Black member of Congress, though Team Blue once again held the financial advantage here.

The contest earned national attention weeks before Election Day when Perlmutter lightly slapped away Frazier’s hand after the Republican pointed it in his face, an action the incumbent immediately apologized for. Despite the ugly year, though, Perlmutter turned in a 53-42 victory, a showing that proved that the area’s recent leftward swing was for real.

Perlmutter never again faced any serious opposition for re-election, and his stature in Colorado politics continued to grow. That trajectory presaged his announcement in 2017 that he would give up his seat to run for governor, and initially he looked like a major contender. It was therefore a big surprise that when he announced just months later that he was dropping out, explaining that he doubted he still had the “fire in the belly” to run a strong race after his colleague (and the eventual winner), wealthy Rep. Jared Polis, joined the contest.

Perlmutter originally said he would stick with his plans to leave the House, but he declared a month later that he’d changed his mind and would run for a seventh term. Every Democrat who’d been running in what was briefly an open-seat race ended up dropping out, and Perlmutter easily won again in 2018 and 2020.

4Q Fundraising

  • NV-Sen: Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): $3.3 million raised, $10.4 million cash-on-hand
  • WA-Sen: Tiffany Smiley (R): $925,000 raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
  • AZ-Gov: Katie Hobbs (D): $2.9 million raised (in 2021); Karrin Taylor Robson (R): $1.85 million raised, additional $1.85 million self-funded, $3 million cash-on-hand
  • WI-Gov: Tony Evers (D-inc): $5 million raised (in six months), $10.5 million cash-on-hand; Rebecca Kleefisch (R): $3.3 million raised (in four months)
  • FL-13: Anna Paulina Luna (R): $500,000 raised
  • MD-04: Glenn Ivey (D): $277,000 raised (in two months)
  • MN-04: Amane Badhasso (D): $300,000 raised
  • NH-01: Karoline Leavitt (R): $250,000 raised
  • NJ-07: Tom Malinowski (D-inc): $900,000 raised, $2.7 million cash-on-hand
  • NY-03: Josh Lafazan (D): $450,000 raised (in 18 days)
  • NY-22: Josh Riley (D): $416,000 raised (in two months)
  • OH-09: Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R): $365,000 raised (in 35 days)
  • PA-18: Steve Irwin (D): $330,000 raised (in two months), $300,000 cash-on-hand
  • VT-AL: Becca Balint (D): $201,000 raised (in three weeks)


NH-Sen: State Senate President Chuck Morse has confirmed that he’ll take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, which makes him the first major Republican to launch a bid in the two months since Gov. Chris Sununu decided to sit out this race.

So far, Morse’s only notable opponent in the September primary, which is one of the last in the nation, is Donald Bolduc, who lost the GOP nomination last cycle for New Hampshire’s other Senate seat. Bolduc generated attention after he celebrated Sununu’s announcement by blasting the governor as a “Chinese communist sympathizer” with a family business that “supports terrorism,” so you can tell what kind of campaign he’s running this time around. Other Republicans, however, are still talking about getting in, with Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith promising an announcement this week.

Morse himself has led the GOP in the upper chamber since 2013, and WMUR writes that, while he’s largely “veered away from ideological battles,” he’s embraced more hardline conservative measures recently, like the state’s recently passed 24-week abortion ban. Morse, who represents a red seat in the southeast corner of the state, has never run statewide before, though the two days he served as acting governor in January of 2017 technically made him New Hampshire’s first Republican chief executive in 12 years.

OH-Sen: Josh Mandel’s allies at the Club for Growth seem to think we’ll forget about their prior poll every time they release a new one, except we’re Daily Kos Elections—we never forget. The Club’s latest release, once again from WPA Intelligence, proudly touts Mandel’s “double-digit lead” in May’s GOP primary, and sure enough, the one-time state treasurer is beating former state party chair Jane Timken 26-15, per these early January numbers.

But in late September, WPA found Mandel with an advantage twice as large—37-13 over venture capitalist J.D. Vance. In WPA’s newest memo, the Club takes credit for pushing Vance into fourth place with 10% of the vote (businessman Mike Gibbons is in third with 14%) thanks to the millions they’ve spent on ads flogging his old anti-Trump statements.

But Vance’s small drop—just 3 points—hasn’t benefited Mandel at all, given that literally every other named candidate has seen their vote share grow: Timken was at 6 in September, while Gibbons was at 8, and even a couple of smaller-time contenders have also risen. Every other candidate apart from the appalling Mandel, of course, who’s sunk 11 points. With friends like these!

SD-Sen: Republican Sen. John Thune announced Saturday that he would seek a fourth term in deep red South Dakota, a move that finally ends a year of indecision from the number-two Republican in the chamber. Thune infuriated Donald Trump in December of 2020 by recognizing Joe Biden’s victory, but while Trump used his soon-to-be-disintegrated Twitter account to predict that the senator “will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!,” no one of any stature has launched a bid in the ensuing year. The filing deadline isn’t until the end of March, but there’s no indication that Thune will have anything to worry about in the June GOP primary.

Thune made his announcement one day before Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson, who was the only other member of the upper chamber still mulling retirement, confirmed he’d also be seeking re-election. Barring a massive surprise, this means that a total of five Republicans and one Democrat are not seeking re-election to the Senate. Team Blue’s only retiree is Vermont’s Pat Leahy, while the Republicans on their way out the door are Alabama’s Richard Shelby; Missouri’s Roy Blunt; North Carolina’s Richard Burr; Ohio’s Rob Portman; and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey.

WI-Sen: Republican Sen. Ron Johnson launched his opening two TV ads on Monday, one day after confirming he’d abandon his old pledge to serve just two terms, and they preview exactly the type of Trumpy campaign we can expect from the senator.

Both commercials feature Johnson bemoaning the state of America under “Democrat” [sic] governance; he uses one spot to insist Team Blue is to blame for “the 2020 summer riots, defunding the police, lowering bail, and not prosecuting criminals,” while the other paints a similarly dystopian picture of more of American life. Johnson uses the second half of each ad to argue that, while he supposedly planned to retire when he last was on the ballot, he needs to run again to “make our country safer and stronger.”  The incumbent, whose very different messaging in 2016 featured a peeing baby, did not reveal the size of the buy, though AdImpact has tracked at least $486,000 so far.

Johnson, who kept the political world guessing about his 2022 plans for over a year, was just as bad if not worse even before he returned to the campaign trail. The senator has been one of the Big Lie’s most vocal advocates, even outright calling for Republican state legislators to take control of Wisconsin’s federal elections. Johnson has also done everything possible to undermine COVID vaccination efforts and mused just last week, “Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease? Why do we assume that the body’s natural immune system isn’t the marvel that it really is?” Unsurprisingly, he’s made it clear he remains unvaccinated.


IL-Gov: The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Laura Washington writes that Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is expected to decide “very soon” if he’ll enter the June Republican primary for governor. Multiple media outlets reported last month that Irvin is billionaire Ken Griffin’s preferred choice to take on Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker.

MD-Gov: Businesswoman Laura Neuman has entered the Democratic primary for Maryland’s open governorship, joining a crowded field that includes several heavyweight candidates. Neuman briefly served as Anne Arundel County executive as a Republican, following an appointment to the post to fill a vacancy in 2013, but lost the GOP primary for a full term the following year. At some point, she joined the Democratic Party, though it’s not clear exactly when.

MN-Gov: Healthcare executive Kendall Qualls announced he’d run for governor over the weekend, joining several other Republicans who are looking to unseat Democratic Gov. Tim Walz this fall as he seeks a second term. Qualls ran against Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District in 2020 but lost 56-44. He says that if he does not receive the GOP’s endorsement at the party’s convention later this year, he won’t run in the primary—a pledge many candidates make that’s known in local parlance as “abiding.”

NY-Gov: Businessman Harry Wilson, who was the GOP’s nominee for state comptroller in 2010, says he’s giving “very serious consideration” to a possible bid for governor this year. Wilson lost that previous race to Democratic incumbent Thomas DiNapoli 51-46, but his showing still stands as the best by a Republican in a statewide contest since 2002.

TX-Gov: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, per the Democratic firm Amplify Media Strategy, reportedly has $1.3 million reserved for TV ads for January alone, and he’s using his first to emphasize his support from the National Border Patrol Council. Abbott faces both former state Sen. Don Huffines and ex-state chair Allen West in the March 1 primary, though the incumbent has enjoyed massive leads in every poll we’ve seen.

WI-Gov: Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has essentially had the Republican primary to herself since she launched her campaign against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers last September, but two former U.S. Senate candidates are threatening to give her some real competition in the August nomination contest. The more likely threat may come from businessman Kevin Nicholson, who spent more than a year saying he’d seek the Republican nomination for governor in the event that GOP Sen. Ron Johnson were to run for re-election, but millionaire Eric Hovde is also talking about getting in.

While Nicholson held off from announcing anything on Sunday in the hours after Johnson kicked off his bid to stay in the Senate, he tweeted, “It’s no secret that I’m considering a run for Governor … Over the coming days my family, friends, and I will continue to pray for wisdom for our next steps.” The Associated Press’ Scott Bauer reports that Nicholson is expected both to run and to once again have the support of billionaire Richard Uihlein, who spent $11 million backing him in his quest for the 2018 Senate nomination. Despite Uihlein’s heavy spending, though, state Sen. Leah Vukmir beat Nicholson, who had had trouble explaining away his long history as a Democrat, by a 49-43 margin before losing to Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin.

Hovde, meanwhile, told the AP on Monday he was “seriously evaluating” running for governor and would decide in the next few weeks. Hovde ran for the Senate in 2012 but lost the primary to former Gov. Tommy Thompson 34-31; Thompson went on to lose the open seat race to none other than Baldwin.


Geography: Hello, friends of Daily Kos Elections! We’re once again formulating geographic descriptions for every congressional district, and we’d like your help. Three years ago, we put out a similar ask, and you helped us come up with concise, accurate descriptions for the entire House. Now with redistricting underway, we’re looking to do the same thing once more.

Our goal is to provide descriptions that would allow someone unfamiliar with a given state’s congressional lines to get a rough sense of where each district is situated. California’s new 12th District, for instance, could be “Oakland and Berkley,” while Arkansas’ new 1st could be “Northeastern Arkansas.”

To this end, we have a few tips: 1) Try to use only the names of (relatively) major cities and counties, and well-known areas (such as California’s Central Valley) or geographic features; 2) for districts in the biggest cities (such as New York), important neighborhood names can be used; and 3) keep your descriptions as short as possible.

If you’d like to participate, please open up this Google spreadsheet and get right to it. Please don’t overwrite anyone else’s suggestions—just add new ones in a new column. Our plan is to review all of the proposals we get and come up with a single descriptor for every district. We’ll also resolicit the crowd when the remaining states finish redistricting. We really appreciate your help and look forward to sharing the finished product!

CA-41: Assemblyman Chad Mayes, a former Republican leader who became an independent in 2019, said Monday that he wasn’t closing the door on challenging longtime GOP Rep. Ken Calvert in California’s revamped 41st Congressional District. Mayes, who announced earlier in the day that he was retiring from the legislature, said, “I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not ruling it in.”

But no matter what Mayes does, Calvert may still face notable opposition in the June top-two primary for this new seat in the Riverside southern suburbs, which would have backed Donald Trump by a narrow 50-49 margin. Former Trump apparatchik Richard Grenell attracted attention over the weekend by tweeting, “It’s time for California’s Congressional District 41 to be represented by a fighter. There is too much at stake.”

It’s not clear if Grenell thinks he can be that “fighter,” though, because he seems to have someone else in mind as he told the Palm Springs Desert Sun that he was encouraging GOP state Sen. Melissa Melendez to run. The paper writes that a spokesperson for Melendez, who has formed an exploratory campaign for a possible campaign for lieutenant governor, “did not immediately respond to a request for comment.” A few Democrats are also running, including engineer Shrina Kurani, teacher Brandon Mosely, and former federal prosecutor Will Rollins.

Calvert, who was first elected to Congress in 1992 by narrowly beating his future Democratic colleague, Mark Takano, has rarely had trouble winning re-election. The one exception was in 2008 when an unheralded Democrat named Bill Hedrick held the incumbent to a shockingly tight 51-49 victory as Barack Obama managed a 50-49 win in what was then numbered the 44th District, but Calvert decisively won their rematch two years later. Calvert has spent the last decade in the current and safely red 42nd District, and he’s had nothing to worry about until now.

IL-01: Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves announced over the weekend that she was joining the June primary to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Bobby Rush. Norington-Reaves also revealed that she was stepping down as head of her group, which the Chicago Tribune says was created by Cook County and the city of Chicago “to centralize and streamline workforce development efforts.” The only other notable candidate running for this safely blue seat so far is Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell, though plenty of others have expressed interest. However, activist Ja’Mal Green has taken his name out of contention.

IL-17: Rockford Alderwoman Linda McNeely has joined the busy Democratic primary for Illinois’ open 17th District, which Democrats redrew last year to become bluer. Under the old lines, the district voted 50-48 for Donald Trump, but the revised version would have gone for Joe Biden 53-45.

NC-06: Singer Clay Aiken, who ran a high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2014, announced on Monday that he’s trying again. This time, the former “American Idol” star is running in North Carolina’s open 6th Congressional District, which Republicans drew to pack in as many Democratic voters in the Durham/Chapel Hill area as possible. As such, it would have voted 73-25 for Joe Biden, but that also means it’s attracted a good deal of interest from local Democrats, including several elected officials with their own bases of support.

Eight years ago, Aiken’s celebrity status allowed him to raise a credible sum of money when he challenged Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in what was then the 2nd District. But the district’s deeply conservative lean combined with that year’s GOP wave were far too much to overcome, and Aiken wound up losing by a wide 59-41 margin.

NE-01: Who’s gonna let a little federal indictment stop them from seeking re-election? Not Jeff Fortenberry! The Republican congressman from Lincoln announced on Monday that he’d run for a 10th term this year, despite the fact that federal prosecutors have charged him with lying to investigators as part of a probe into a foreign billionaire who used straw donors to illegally funnel $180,000 to four different GOP candidates, including $30,000 to Fortenberry’s campaign.

Bizarrely, the congressman once again delivered the news via a blurry video recorded with his wife and dog inside of his pickup truck—just as he did when he stunned the political world with word of his indictment back in October. Since then, Fortenberry has picked up a Democratic opponent in state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks. While the 1st is conservative turf, it picked up some blue areas in redistricting as part of a Republican gerrymander to protect the 2nd District, shifting the seat from 56-41 for Donald Trump to 54-43 Trump. Throw in Fortenberry’s serious legal woes and we could have an interesting race.

NJ-06: Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley, who’d been considering a challenge to Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, has now filed paperwork with the FEC ahead of a possible bid for the GOP nomination. The boundaries of New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District didn’t change much in redistricting, but it did become slightly bluer: Under the old lines, it voted for Joe Biden 57-42, but the new version would have gone for Biden 59-40.

NJ-07: Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski announced on Monday that he’ll seek a third term in November, despite the fact that members of his own party made his district redder in redistricting. In an apparent attempt to shore up other incumbents, New Jersey Democrats proposed a map that shifted the 7th Congressional District several points to the right: Under the old lines, it voted for Joe Biden 54-44, but the redrawn constituency would have backed Biden by a considerably narrower 51-47 spread.

Malinowski was already facing a difficult rematch with Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., whom he beat by just a point in 2020, as well as a House Ethics Committee investigation into whether he made improper stock trades. For those reasons, Politico’s Matt Friedman speculated last month, Democrats were prepared to “sacrifice” Malinowski in order to shore up other vulnerable incumbents, trading numbers for safety. That appears to be exactly what they did, as the 3rd, 7th, and 11th all became decidedly bluer while Malinowski’s turf went the other way.

OH-09: State Rep. Craig Riedel has entered the GOP primary for Ohio’s redrawn 9th Congressional District, which Republicans recently gerrymandered in an attempt to oust longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The new version of this northwestern Ohio seat supported Donald Trump 51-47, a huge shift from Joe Biden’s 59-40 victory under the current lines. Already seeking the GOP nod is state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, who co-chaired the legislature’s redistricting committee.

TX-08: A group called Keep Texas Great PAC has spent $100,000 so far to boost Christian Collins, a former campaign manager to retiring Rep. Kevin Brady, in the March 1 Republican primary for this safely red seat. The PAC previously appeared on the scene when it sought to boost Midland City Councilman J. Ross Lacy in the 2020 primary for the old 11th District, but he ended up taking just 4% against the eventual winner, August Pfluger.

TX-38: Opportunity Matters Fund, a well-funded super PAC run by allies of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, is spending $408,000 to aid Army veteran Wesley Hunt in the March 1 Republican primary for this new and safely red open seat, and their first commercial is now available. The spot promotes Hunt as a conservative combat veteran and “native Houstonian.”  

VA-07, VA-01, VA-05: The 7th District Republican Party announced over the weekend that it would hold a traditional June party primary to select its nominee to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in this redrawn constituency, a switch from two years ago. Virginia allows parties to use a primary, party convention, or party-run “firehouse primary” to pick their candidates; last cycle, the local GOP chose a convention.

The Virginia Scope’s Brandon Jarvis also says that Republicans in the neighboring 1st District have decided to do a primary as well, while the party will once again use a convention in the 5th. Republican Reps. Rob Wittman and Bob Good currently face no serious intra-party opposition in seats that backed Donald Trump by margins of 52-46 and 53-45, respectively.

WV-02: Rep. Alex Mooney has released a Public Opinion Strategies poll that gives him a 45-32 lead in his May Republican primary showdown against fellow incumbent David McKinley. That’s very different from the 44-29 McKinley edge we saw in October from National Research on behalf of GOPAC, a group that has donated to McKinley in the past.

Attorneys General

GA-AG, GA-LG: Charlie Bailey, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for attorney general, announced Monday that he was ending his second campaign for that office and would instead enter the crowded open race for lieutenant governor. Bailey’s decision leaves state Sen. Jen Jordan as the only notable Democrat challenging Republican Attorney General Chris Carr.


Special Elections: Tuesday brings us the opening bell of the 2022 special elections! The most prominent contest is in the race for Florida’s 20th Congressional District, a 77-20 Biden constituency where Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick should have no trouble against Republican Jason Mariner, but we also have a trio of general elections for state legislative seats. Two are in safely blue seats, Massachusetts’ 1st Suffolk & Middlesex Senate District and Virginia’s 89th House District, but a third is potentially competitive:

ME-HD-27: Three candidates are running to succeed Democrat Kyle Bailey, who resigned in October from a seat that includes part of Gorham and Scarborough. The Democrats are fielding former state Sen. James Boyle, who lost re-election in 2014, while the GOP is running Marine veteran Timothy Thorsen; rounding out the field is independent Suzanne Phillips.

Hillary Clinton won 53-40 here, and preliminary numbers from Daily Kos Elections have Joe Biden prevailing by a larger 60-37 spread in 2020. Democrats enjoy a 80-64 majority in a 151-person chamber that also includes three independents, one Libertarian, and one member of the Independent for Maine Party; this seat and one Republican-held district, the very red HD-145, are open.


Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Former Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has endorsed acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson in the Feb. 15 nonpartisan primary, and he added that he’ll “certainly do something” to aid Johnson beyond making a donation to his campaign. Abele, who is wealthy and well-connected, funded an outside group to help several local candidates in 2020, though he says he hasn’t decided what his involvement will look like this time.


King County, WA Prosecutor: Incumbent Dan Satterberg announced Friday that he would not seek re-election as prosecutor in a jurisdiction that includes Seattle and many of its suburbs, a move the Seattle Times predicts will set off a packed race “the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Harry Truman was president.” The paper notes that Satterberg, a former Republican who joined the Democratic Party in 2018, is only the fourth person to hold this post since 1949. Satterberg himself became interim prosecutor in 2007 after 30-year incumbent Norm Maleng died in office, and he’s decisively won every election ever since.

Satterberg’s former chief of staff, Leesa Manion, quickly announced her campaign to succeed him; Manion, who was born in Korea, would be the first woman and person of color to serve here. King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell also quickly filed to run as well.

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