RMN’s Carroll endorses Polis in CD-2. Huh?

Conceding that the CD-2 seat being vacated by Mark Udall is almost certain to be occupied by a liberal — or at least a Democrat — Rocky Mountain News editorial page editor Vincent Carroll has fired a preemptive barrage to boost the candidate he seems to view as least liberal, Jared Polis.

In his “On Point” column this morning, Carroll wrote:

“So why pull for a political dilettante like Polis? Because he’s potentially a more interesting Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District — which will elect another liberal in 2008 to replace Mark Udall — than the presumed front-runner, Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald. And although Polis hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, most political observers are convinced it’s only a matter of time.”

What charms Carroll about Polis is not the latter’s incisive grasp of the issues, or his creative approach to public policy, but his money. Carroll notes that Polis spent $1.2 million to campaign for a seat on the State Board of Education, and that he established a string of charter schools for immigrants.

For Carroll, Polis’s real qualification is that he’s a businessman:

“You’d hope that a fellow who understands the importance of an entrepreneurial cultural would at least think twice before supporting policies likely to destroy it.”

Conservatives trot this out every so often, arguing that a person who has run a business is somehow better qualified to run a country, even though there is no evidence to support this contention. In the crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls, only Mitt Romney can be a called a businessman.

Of the Republican presidents since World War II, only two — George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush — even sniffed at the world of business. Even conceding that a guy who runs an oil company and pro baseball team into the ground is a businessman, their records in office don’t really offer a strong endorsement of the businessman-is-better hypothesis.

So while being a businessman doesn’t automatically disqualify Jared Polis, it seems like a slender thread on which to hang his candidacy.

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Dan Whipple

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