CD-2 Dem Primary: Polis Likely to Run Aggressive Campaign

Running on full

CD-2 Democratic congressional hopeful Jared Polis will probably run an aggressive campaign, challenging Fitz-Gerald’s record on the issues where he feels it’s appropriate. The first salvos have already been fired around their respective records on Iraq.

This will no doubt be characterized in the media and blogosphere as “negative.” But posing tough questions about policy positions is exactly what campaigns ought to be about. You wouldn’t interview a job candidate without grilling him or her about past job history. The direct approach may make some people uncomfortable, but it’s required in a serious debate. It should be the substance of political campaigns, rather than amused gossip about the missteps of subordinates, which is what has gathered the Polis campaign its most attention so far.

When (now former) staffer Raf Noboa posted some mild personal attacks against Fitz-Gerald and Shafroth, the netizens howled and the blog Colorado Pols went so far as reduce Polis’s odds to 8-to-1, behind even Shafroth, whom they put at 4-to-1. It’s hard to defend the thinking behind that, because while Polis may lag Fitz-Gerald, he would certainly poll ahead of Shafroth at this point in the campaign.

The CD-2 Democratic race will be one of the most expensive primaries ever contested in the U.S. For an introduction to this four-part series, click here.

Polis is pretty well-known in the district from his business success, his extensive philanthropic work, and his political initiatives. He served for six years on the state Board of Education. Education is an issue he’s demonstrated a strong commitment to.

Polis is especially well-known among the netroots and younger people. So far, this has resulted in strong fundraising and increased name recognition. The downside is that young people don’t vote. So this enthusiasm is unlikely to translate into an advantage at the polls in an election that will be very close.

The Polis campaign, like the Fitz-Gerald campaign, says it will pursue the caucus method of getting on the ballot. This means that Polis thinks he can make a strong effort with the party regulars, challenging in an area of Fitz-Gerald’s strength. There seems little doubt that Polis can garner the 30 percent of the vote in the caucuses required to get on the ballot.

One thing that won’t be a problem for the campaign is money. Polis has shown a willingness to spend part of his own considerable fortune to win. He spent $1.2 million to win his board of education seat. The only concern on that score is to be certain that they don’t trigger provisions in campaign finance rules that would allow opponents to increase their contributors’ minimums if too much personal funding is included.

Polis campaign manager Wanda James says that the campaign is on the way to another successful quarter fundraising. “We couldn’t be happier with the position we’re in,” she said.
Tomorrow: Will Shafroth

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Dan Whipple

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