Ed Perlmutter, a 53-year-old essentially single father of three, has pledged to carve out a moderate path if he is elected to Congress this fall, saying he would try to increase funding for stem cell research and the search for renewable energy. He wants to end the war in Iraq and balance the budget.
"What excites me is bringing the course of this country more on track, back to the middle," he has said.
His Republican opponent has other ideas for Colorado's seventh congressional district seat. Rick O'Donnell, one of the youngest members of GOP Governor Bill Owens' cabinet, says a vote for him will mean a vote for a new generation.
"I represent a new generation of leadership," the 36-year-old has said. "I represent new blood, honest answers and new solutions."
Perlmutter began his political career in 1993 with a bid for the Colorado State Senate. He was elected in 1994 and became the first Democrat to hold the seat since Ray Kogovsek held it from 1971 to 1974.
He spent eight years as the state representative from District 20, serving on the Judiciary, Finance, Public Policy and Planning and Legal Services Committees. He was elected president pro tem of the Senate in 2001.
After leaving the Senate in 2002, Perlmutter decided against running for the newly created District 7 congressional seat in 2002 and 2004 and instead elected to serve as Colorado co-chair of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, according to the Rocky Mountain News.
Nowadays, in between dashing down the campaign trail -- he recently got a speeding ticket leaving his daughter's Wheat Ridge high school, the Denver Post reported -- Perlmutter spends a lot of time with his three daughters and even his wife, from whom he's separated but who still volunteers on his campaign.
When challenged by O'Donnell the day after the primary to a series of public debates beginning immediately, Perlmutter said he had to get his daughter off to college first.
"He wouldn't understand that," the Denver Post quoted Perlmutter as saying of O'Donnell, who has no children and no wife.
Perlmutter's family, particularly his eldest daughter Alexis, who suffers from epilepsy, is his main motivation for running for office. He is a strong proponent of expanding stem cell research, which he says could help find a cure for Alexis' disease.
"Let's support stem cell research which shows promise in finding cures for Parkinson's Juvenile Diabetes, Alzheimer's, Epilepsy and many other debilitating diseases and conditions," a statement on his Web site reads.
On other issues such as foreign oil dependence, Perlmutter advocates finding renewable energy sources. The League of Conservation Voters, a non-profit environmental agency, recently endorsed Perlmutter, praising his efforts during his time in office.
"While a legislator, Mr. Perlmutter, a Trustee of the Midwest Research Institute that operates the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, led efforts to approve Colorado's groundbreaking renewable energy initiative as well as helping fashion the approval of a state ballot initiative to dramatically expand the mass transit system in the Denver Metro area," the organization's endorsement said.
But not all Perlmutter's activities draw admiration. As a lawyer, director and shareholder in the Berenbaum, Weinshienk & Eason firm in Denver, Perlmutter specializes in commercial bankruptcy law, construction litigation and commercial litigation, according to martindale.com, a database of American attorneys.
As part of his campaign he has sought to downplay his profession, according to the Rocky Mountain News, instead highlighting his role as a family man and a democrats' democrat.
But, said the paper, O'Donnell will surely use every opportunity to remind Colorado voters of Perlmutter's day job.
State republicans also have criticized Perlmutter's stance on Social Security, saying the democrat should heed other democrats, who have proposed changes to the system rather than keeping the system as it is.
"This is just another case of Ed Perlmutter being irresponsible and out of touch with the people of Colorado," the state party chairman said in a statement.
Perlmutter is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and of Colorado University, where he was class president twice. He was born in Denver and graduated from Jefferson High School in Edgewater, Colo.