A press release a short while ago resolves another lingering question from the tumultuous game of musical chairs that played out in Jefferson County this year–Rep. Brittany Pettersen, who stepped back from the CD-7 congressional race after Rep. Ed Perlmutter decided at length against a run for governor in 2018, will run for the state senate seat being vacated by her former primary opponent for CD-7, term-limited Sen. Andy Kerr:
Jeffco State Rep. Brittany Pettersen today announced her candidacy for the Colorado State Senate, District 22. The three-term legislator, State House Majority Whip and House Education Committee Chair entered the race with the support of Congressman Ed Perlmutter, State Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, former Lakewood City Councilwoman Karen Kellen, and neighboring Lakewood representative, Chris Kennedy.
“It was the teachers and schools in Jefferson County that gave me a chance to succeed, and I first ran to ensure others had that same opportunity to make a better life for themselves,” said Rep. Pettersen. “I have fought to increase public school funding by millions of dollars throughout my legislative career, reduced the testing burden on kids and teachers and worked to make college more affordable. In the state senate, I will continue the fight for stronger public schools for all Colorado kids.”
Pettersen and her three brothers grew up in Jeffco, and lives in Lakewood with her husband, Ian Silverii. She became the first in her family to graduate from high school and college. She put herself through school working minimum wage jobs and graduated with a degree from Metro State University. She knows first-hand the challenges families face in the district, having gone through those struggles herself. She had to grow up fast to help take care of her two younger brothers when her mom became addicted to opioids at a young age. Her mother’s struggles with addiction have led Pettersen to become a leader on combating the opioid crisis in Colorado, and she currently serves as chairwoman of the bipartisan Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Committee.
This development should mark the end of the confusing back-and-forth that has surrounded the future plans of all the candidates affected by Rep. Perlmutter’s abortive run for governor. Lakewood Councillor Karen Kellen was a principal candidate for the SD-22 seat prior to everyone’s plans to move up to fill the chain of vacancies created by Perlmutter were scrambled, so her swift endorsement of Pettersen is significant.
A smooth handoff for Democrats in this race matters, since it’s a competitive swing suburban Jefferson County district that can be considered a bellwether–like Jeffco as a whole. In 2014, Sen. Kerr beat challenger Tony Sanchez by just over 1,300 votes, and Sanchez if you recall was a fringe candidate with no local name recognition. Sanchez, expected to run again in 2018, would have greatly benefitted from running against a less-seasoned opponent than Brittany Pettersen.
With Pettersen running, the question for Republicans is whether anybody better than Sanchez dares get in. We’d say their resources are probably better spent elsewhere.