Colorado Democratic congressman Ed Perlmutter slapped back at his GOP challenger during a televised debate on Sunday—literally.

The Republican, Aurora city councilman Ryan Frazier, was arguing with Perlmutter about the provisions in the health care reform bill. “What page, Ed?” Frazier asked the congressman, who claimed tort reform was in the bill. When Perlmutter couldn’t answer, Frazier repeated the question before asking his opponent to “be honest” with a forceful jab of his finger.

Perlmutter answered with a soft slap on Frazier’s hand. “Hey, don’t hit me, man, c’mon,” Frazier responded, and Perlmutter immediately apologized. Frazier has mostly laughed off the odd moment. “It’s going to take more than a handslap to keep me from fighting for what I believe,” he says in a phone interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “But I do know it was inappropriate. I don’t know what was going on in [Perlmutter’s] head.”

A second-term congressman from Golden, Perlmutter may be thinking the race is getting too close for comfort. Colorado’s Seventh Congressional District is moderately Democratic, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D +4. But Barack Obama won the district by nearly twenty points in 2008, and Perlmutter won that year by 26 points. As Hispanics have become a larger percentage of the voting population in this suburban Denver district, the Seventh seems to have leaned more to the Democrats.

But Frazier, a young black Republican, is running a tight race against Perlmutter, and an August poll of 830 likely voters even had Frazier ahead by one point. “We are in an extremely strong position,” says Frazier, who says black and Hispanic Democrats are saying "privately" they will vote for him. “People are very receptive to our message.”

That message is fiscally and economically conservative. Frazier is not only against Obamacare but also the stimulus and cap and trade, three laws for which Perlmutter voted. Frazier is unequivocal in his belief the stimulus hasn’t worked. “I believe it has failed to do what it’s promised,” What Democrats like Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Perlmutter promised, he says, is that the stimulus would grow jobs and keep unemployment down. “Since Ed Perlmutter took office, unemployment has doubled,” Frazier adds.

In Sunday’s debate, Perlmutter fought back by pointing out that High Point Academy, a charter school where Frazier sends his three children and of which he is vice president of the board, received over $100,000 in stimulus money. Frazier says nearly every school received some stimulus funding. “But I go back to the larger question,” he says. “Did the economic stimulus grow jobs? It did not stimulate the economy.”

For Frazier, tax cuts are a part of that larger question of creating jobs. He says extending the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, bringing down corporate tax rates, and giving more tax breaks to small businesses would be “common-sense” ways to stimulate the economy.

Frazier supports a balanced budget and says Congress should focus on spending to narrow the budget gap. On the city council in Aurora, Colorado’s third largest city, Frazier says he’s gained the experience for working toward a balanced budget. “We had to make the budget work,” he says.

Colorado’s Seventh has been referred to as a bellwether district in 2010 and a majority maker for the GOP. If Frazier wins on November 2, it will be a clear indication the Republican party will be sweeping similar swing districts across the country. “That is pretty exciting,” Frazier says. “The next job is to keep their confidence.”

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