In a stunning move of musical congressional districts, Republican Casper Stockham on Friday is announcing plans to pull out of his run against Democrat Jason Crow in the Aurora-based 6th Congressional District and instead mount a campaign against Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional District on the other side of the metro area, Colorado Politics has learned.
The switch paves the way for former state GOP chairman Steve House to seek the nomination to take on Crow without having to get past Stockham, who lost two bids against Democrat Diana DeGette in the Denver-based 1st Congressional District in previous years.
Perlmutter, who is seeking his eighth term in Congress, had yet to draw a Republican opponent.
House said that Stockham's decision to run in the neighboring congressional race will allow his campaign to take aim at Crow unimpeded, without having to navigate what could have been an expensive primary.
Crow, an Aurora attorney and Army Ranger veteran, unseated five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in 2018 in Colorado's only battleground district. He's the first Democrat to represent the seat, which was created in 1982 and covers portions of Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.
Crow rocketed to national attention in January when he served as one of seven House Democrats prosecuting the impeachment case against President Donald Trump, who was acquitted on a mostly party-line vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“It is vitally important to the citizens of CD6 that we elect a congressman who will represent our entire community, state and country. In his freshman term, Jason Crow has proven that he is aligned only with the fringe extreme left and not the majority of Coloradans,” said House in a statement.
Spokeswomen for the Perlmutter and Crow campaigns declined to comment.
Added House: ”With Casper selflessly leaving the CD6 race, to compete in CD7, our campaign can now focus fully on beating Crow in November and restoring sensible leadership that reflects our values and not those of Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Adam Schiff.”
Stockham blasted Perlmutter using language similar to the attacks he's honed on the campaign trail against Crow.
“Ed Perlmutter has been a disaster for Colorado and for the citizens of CD7," Stockham said. "Coloradans want and deserve real empowering solutions to skyrocketing healthcare costs, education choice and securing our nation’s weak and dangerous borders.”
Perlmutter has won re-election by double digits every time he's run in the suburban seat, which covers northern Jefferson County and western Adams County, including Lakewood, Arvada, Westminster, Northglenn and Thornton. In the last election, Perlmutter defeated Republican nominee Mark Barrington, a salesman, by a 25-point margin.
Stockham, an Air Force veteran and ride-share driver, had been mounting an aggressive campaign for the nomination against the more well-heeled House, portraying the primary as a David and Goliath contest.
He lost 2016 and 2018 bids against DeGette in the heavily Democratic 1st District, trailing the incumbent by 50 percentage points in the last election.
Congressional candidates only have to be state residents and aren't required to reside in a congressional district while running to represent it.
Stockham has lived in Aurora, in the 6th District, during his campaigns against DeGette, Crow and now Perlmutter, but he isn't the only candidate to run away from home.
Crow lived in Denver when he announced his campaign against Coffman, like two of Coffman's previous Democratic challengers, former state Rep. Joe Miklosi in 2012 and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in 2014. All three eventually moved into Aurora.