Polis announces for reelection in newly configured CD 2

The Colorado Statesman

Nestled in between a medical marijuana dispensary and an eco-friendly furniture store on trendy Pearl St. in Boulder, about 50 supporters gathered at Congressman Jared Polis’ campaign headquarters Monday night as the two-term Democratic congressman launched his reelection campaign.

It was the second such event in two days, the first having taken place the night before at the Odell Brewing Company in Ft. Collins, a new part of the 2nd Congressional District.

Jared Polis

Polis’ newly realigned district includes Republican-leaning Larimer County — with its more liberal college town of Ft. Collins — and parts of Jefferson County. The 2nd District lost some northern suburbs of Denver and small sections of “ski country” counties along the I-70 corridor. It is considered more competitive this year, and Polis acknow-ledged that the upcoming election will require a “door-to-door campaign.”

“We need your help and your advice on how to best reach your friends and neighbors,” Polis told supporters at the Feb. 20 campaign kick-off. “Particularly your friends and neighbors in Larimer County, but as always your friends and neighbors all across Boulder and Broomfield as well.”

The event was informal, even by Boulder standards. Supporters snacked on appetizers, admired Polis’ five-month-old son Caspian, and played with his dog Gia as they chatted with their congressman. But Polis struck a serious tone in his speech when he described the difficulties of working in the Republican-controlled House.

“Believe me, there were times in this last year under the current majority where it’s been tough,” Polis said. “It’s been tough to move the country forward together. It’s been tough to find a practical way, a pragmatic way, to make our country stronger and grow the middle class.”

Polis continued, “You have a Congress that’s divided ideologically. You have a large contingent of people that have spawned from the Tea Party who are there simply to say ‘no.’ They aren’t there to work across the aisle for results, but are there simply to impede progress. But rather than give up,” Polis said, “I’ve decided to re-double my efforts and that begins here in Colorado.”

Afterwards, in an interview with The Colorado Statesman, Polis reflected on his two proudest accomplishments from his most recent term in Congress.

He spoke about his advocacy against the Stop Online Piracy Act, as well as his leadership role in passing bipartisan legislation reauthorizing federal charter-school programs, a bill he first introduced in the House last session.

“We worked hard on improving [the bill] through the process,” Polis said. “When you’re in the minority, there are not a lot of chances to legislate, so I was really honored to have been able to contribute in an area where other members of Congress rely on my knowledge and to have been effective in getting that [bill] passed.”

Polis also said that he doesn’t view the demographics in the 2nd CD as having been significantly altered under the redistricting process that was finalized in December.

“As I’ve reached out in Larimer in the last couple of months, I’ve found that people in Larimer County are just like people anywhere in Colorado,” Polis said. “They care about jobs, they care about the economy, they care about balancing the budget, and they care about hope and opportunity, which is what my campaign is all about.”

The Congressman was gracious toward his opponents — Boulder businessman Eric Weissmann and state Sen. Kevin Lundberg — as they prepare to challenge each other in a Republican primary.

He described Weissmann as “a good friend, a capable guy.” The Democratic incumbent even said, “He’d be a fine congressman, and I hope he has future opportunities in public service because I think he has a lot to give.”

Polis said, however, that he wasn’t aware of Weissmann’s demand for a refund of the $1,000 contribution he gave to Polis during the 2008 Democratic primary. He said he last met with Weissmann a few weeks ago in his D.C. congressional office.

The incumbent said he makes it a point to have good personal relationships with his opponents, because former opponents become constituents after they lose an election, and constituents call the shots.

“Whoever is elected will have to represent all the people of the 2nd Congressional District,” Polis said. “It’s ironic: when you win, your opponent winds up being your boss.”

Broomfield resident Dianne Primavera, who is running against Republican David Pigott in House District 33, attended the event with her daughter, Darcy. Polis recently spoke at Primavera’s candidacy announcement last month.

“They say all politics are local, so whatever I can do locally to help Jared, I will,” Primavera said. She added, “He’s always helped me a whole lot more than I’ve helped him.”

Joel Davidow, who served as chairman of the Boulder County Democratic Party from 2009 to 2011, said it wasn’t just the Democratic Party ties that brought him to the event.

“Part of it is that Democratic connection, but I think more importantly, Jared is the kind of representative who is going to go out into his district and have a real conversation with his constituents,” Davidow said. “He’s going to try to understand what the issues are that are affecting their lives, what their priorities are, and I really believe that he’s going to take that back to D.C. with him.”

Sally Martin, acting chair of the 2nd CD for the Colorado Democratic Party, said she met Polis when he was in high school and working on Josie Heath’s campaign for county commissioner.

Martin said she is proud of Polis’ accomplishments in Congress, especially his work on education, but that she has been most impressed by him “on a human level.”

“Jared is a person who gives so much,” Martin said. “He never asks for credit, or kudos, but those of us who have known him for a long time know of his generous spirit. He’s always giving to others. We are so fortunate to have him as our congressman, and I know he’ll win reelection this fall.”

Peter Vallero, a Democratic precinct leader from the Mapleton Hill area of Boulder, attended the event to tell Polis that his precinct would be working hard to support him in the upcoming election.

“One thing I like about Polis is that he’s more pragmatic than a lot of people,” Vallero said. “I know that here in Boulder, we can be very rabid about the way we feel. We don’t tend to consider other peoples’ viewpoints as much, and I think Polis does a great job realizing that he’s the representative for everyone, and not just for those of us who agree with him.”

Ben@coloradostatesman.com