Friday, June 16, 2017

Polis in the Race. Is He the New Frontrunner? – Denver Post

Congressman Jared Polis is running for governor. Mark Matthews of the Denver Post broke the story on Sunday, June 11, 2017. I pointed out:
“The game is on, and Mr. Polis will heighten it even more. He definitely changes the complexion of the race.”
Polis is the second congressman in the race. Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who announced several weeks ago, was considered the early frontrunner, but Polis will immediately challenge Perlmutter for frontrunner status. Polis will be seen as the most liberal candidate in the race and he will spend whatever it takes to win. He spent $6 million to win his congressional seat in 2008. Earlier, he had spent $1 million on state board of education seat.

Rep. Jared Polis | AP photo
Polis is an anti-establishment politician with few political allies – Democrat or Republican. He has been the anti-party candidate in most of his career. He championed a ballot initiative (Amendment 41, 2006) to promote government ethics that was considered by many observers as extreme. And, he became the champion and financier of anti-fracking forces, ending up in confrontation with the Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and much of the Colorado Democratic Party establishment.

But although he may antagonize the party establishment, he was one of the four outside party donors, along with national gay activist Tim Gill, heiress Pat Stryker and computer software millionaire Rutt Bridges, who bankrolled the Democratic Party into becoming competitive in Colorado politics beginning in 2004. He helped create a new Democratic Party. The success is considered a model for Democrats around the country.

With the new primary rules where independents can vote (Proposition 108 passed in 2016), Polis is likely to target them, along with his Boulder and Larimer district constituents, environmental groups and anti-establishment liberals throughout the state. The primary is June 26 in 2018.

The main challenge he will face is being seen as too far left and likely to lose a general election. Democratic Party leaders, especially Governor Hickenlooper, and party pragmatists are anxious to hold the seat. Also, Polis’s years of anti-establishment activism has left pockets of antagonists who will be happy to oppose his career move.

Polis, no doubt, has polling that shows he and his brand of politics can win, but his congressional election experience is weak. He lost Larimer and Jefferson counties in 2014 against a little known, underfunded opponent. There will be a lot of sceptics of Polis’s electability.

Bottom line: Strong primary candidate in crowded field with new rules for turnout. But, no general election record and controversial statewide image.

The Buzz: Colorado governor’s primary could spend $25 million
The Buzz: Governor’s race could be most competitive in two decades

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