Perlmutter was born in Denver, the son of Alice Love (née Bristow) and Leonard Michael Perlmutter. His father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland; his mother was Christian, and was of English and Irish descent. Perlmutter describes himself as a Christian. Perlmutter graduated from Jefferson High School in Edgewater, Colorado and went on to study political science, history and economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating in 1975. He received his Juris Doctor from CU in 1978 where he was twice elected President of his class while working part-time as a laborer on construction projects.
Perlmutter was a Colorado State Senator from 1995 to 2003. He was elected to two four-year terms to represent central Jefferson County as State Senator from 1995 to 2003—the first Democrat elected in the district in 30 years.
In 2000, he helped lead a team that succeeded in a Democratic takeover of the Colorado State Senate for the first time since John F. Kennedy was president. He has assisted numerous campaigns and most recently was co-chair of the Kerry Campaign in Colorado.Committee on Financial ServicesSubcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises
United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Subcommittee on Energy
Subcommittee on Space
Perlmutter introduced H.R. 2076, the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015, into the U.S. House of Representatives on April 28, 2015. The bill's goal is to create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses. It is co-sponsored by Denny Heck and 16 other Republican and Democratic representatives.
Perlmutter won the Democratic nomination for the 7th District by defeating former State Representative Peggy Lamm and college professor Herb Rubenstein, with 53% of the vote in the primary. State education chairman Rick O'Donnell was unopposed for the Republican nomination. Dave Chandler, a Green, was also a candidate.
The seat was held by Republican Bob Beauprez, who was reelected to a second term in 2004 with 55% of the vote, after winning his first term by only 121 votes. He left the seat at the end of the 2004–2006 term, having failed in his bid to become Governor of Colorado.
In late September, O'Donnell was put on the defensive when ads appeared noting that he had previously supported abolishing Social Security. A Survey USA poll soon after that showed Perlmutter with a 54 to 37 percent lead, although GOP consultants guessed that the support was "soft". An October 4 poll released by Zogby showed Perlmutter ahead of O'Donnell by 45-34 percent. Cook Political Report rating: Republican Toss Up. CQPolitics rating: No Clear Favorite.
In the end, Perlmutter (54%) soundly defeated O'Donnell (42%) for the congressional seat, helping Democrats to regain the majority in the U.S. House.
Perlmutter won against Republican nominee John W. Lerew.
Perlmutter defeated Republican nominee Ryan Frazier and Libertarian nominee Buck Bailey on November 2, 2010. The 7th Congressional district had been cited as a GOP target in 2010.
Perlmutter defeated Republican nominee Joe Coors Jr. on November 6, 2012. Perlmutter's victory came despite new congressional boundaries that made his district 4 percent less Democratic. Perlmutter was ahead by 9 percentage points in Jefferson County, where 60 percent of the voters live. Perlmutter led Coors by 17 percentage points in Adams County, where 40 percent of the constituents in the newly drawn 7th District live.
Perlmutter defeated Republican nominee Don Ytterberg in the 2014 general election. He won with 55.1% of the vote.
Perlmutter defeated Republican nominee George Athanasopoulos and Libertarian nominee Martin L. Buchanan in the 2016 general election. He won with 55.18% of the vote.
On April 9, 2017, Perlmutter announced his candidacy for Governor of Colorado in the 2018 election. On July 10, 2017, Perlmutter announced that he will drop out of the gubernatorial race and will not seek reelection to his congressional seat. However, on August 21, 2017, he announced he had changed his mind again and decided to run for reelection for his congressional seat.
Perlmutter has three children. He and his first wife, Deana, divorced in 2008. In November 2010, Perlmutter married Nancy Henderson. Nancy Perlmutter teaches mathematics and has three adult children. His uncle was Denver real estate developer, Jordon Perlmutter.