Brittany Pettersen, Democratic State Senator from District 22, wants to be the first congressional representative from a newly re-drawn District 7 when the votes are counted in November.
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Pettersen, who’s served in both the Colorado House and Senate, announced her intent to run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Ed Perlmutter just one day after he said he wouldn’t seek reelection in this year’s mid-terms.
In her Twitter announcement, Pettersen said she’s running to continue Perlmutter’s legacy in the district. And in a subsequent interview, she said Perlmutter knows there are people ready to step up to fill the seat and that it’s more competitive, but definitely winnable.
“These are the types of races that I have always run in. This is at a larger scale, but why I have always outperformed my district and won by significant margins is because of my story,” she said. “Because I’m a candidate that’s relatable. I’m a regular person and the issues that I’ve worked on have really been fighting to make their (her constituents’) lives better.”
She said Washington doesn’t often see representatives with the life experience she brings. Pettersen has been open about her mother’s decades-long struggle with opioid addiction.
As a mother of a young son, Pettersen said she wants to be a role model of what a strong woman can be. Contrary to wanting to take on less after having a child, she said she feels that stepping up and running is even more urgent because the stakes for the future, and the state, couldn’t be higher.
“It is difficult. It is a huge commitment. Public service is something that you live and breathe,” she said. “In my job as a State Senator and as a State Representative, I learned that you just have to carve out that time for the people that you love as well.”
As for the prospect of running as a Democrat when Republicans may well reclaim the majority, Pettersen said she’s undaunted.
She said she’ll travel the district, getting to know residents in the newly-incorporated areas in a much more comprehensive way, listening to voters about their issues and concerns. Climate change and wildfire mitigation are a couple of important issues she said she wants to tackle — issues that are also important to residents of mountain areas now included in the district.
“But it’s not just the mountain communities that are going to be affected by this (climate change),” she said. “Not even the suburbs are going to be safe if we don’t act.”
For now, she’s focusing on building her team and winning in the general election. Just two days after her announcement, she’d racked up an impressive number of endorsements and is building a war chest through donations. In an interview about his not seeking reelection, Perlmutter himself called her a fierce campaigner that has the ability to win.
But Pettersen said she’s not taking anything for granted.
“This is going to be a very competitive race and there’s no time to waste,” she said.
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