In an attempt to harness the excitement that came after Jared Polis handily defeated his opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, state party leaders came together today, June 29, to offer their support for the congressman in the general election.
Standing on the steps of the Capitol, speakers alternated between praising Polis, talking Colorado issues, and blasting the Trump administration. The solidarity event was a prelude to what will surely be a fierce race between Polis and conservative Republican Walker Stapleton.
The rally began with speakers reflecting on the primary results — specifically, the 70,000-plus independents who chose to vote in the Democratic primary.
“If you look at the way the independent voters broke, it was solidly in the Democratic camp. They’re excited about the future of this state,” said Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.
The state's top-ranking Democrats praised Polis and his focus on marginalized communities.
“He has been someone who, even when he was succeeding at incredibly high levels, was giving of himself and making sure that he found time to help those who are less fortunate,” said Governor John Hickenlooper.
Former U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar had nothing but positive words for Polis. “He cares about everyone, with no exceptions,” he said.
Democrats are highlighting Stapleton's relationships with special interests and lobbyists as a key difference between the two camps. “The biggest contrast in this campaign is going to be between Jared, someone who’s not beholden to anyone and can’t be bought, and Walker Stapleton, somebody who has spent his career catering to the special interests,” said Eric Walker, head of communications for Colorado Democrats, to Westword after the rally. Walker pointed to Stapleton’s close relationship with the NRA as especially problematic.
Crisanta Duran, speaker of the Colorado House, told us after the rally that Democrats must unite to defeat the controversial policies coming from the White House. “When there’s so much divisiveness coming out of Washington, D.C., there needs to be leaders that will continue to problem-solve and really focus on bringing people together. I think that Jared Polis is the right candidate to be able to do that,” she told Westword.
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In his speech, which wrapped up the morning event, Polis made his feelings about the White House and how Colorado should respond to its policies clear. “With Washington going the wrong way, it’s more important than ever before to be unified here in Colorado and elect strong leaders who will defend our Colorado values,” he said.
Vivian Stovall, an African-American grandmother, sat in her wheelchair in the front row. She was effusive in her support for Polis. “He was the only candidate that I could talk to about issues that pertain to seniors and people with disabilities. He was very inclusive in those issues,” she told Westword.
She said that Polis not only aligned with her on important issues, but also actually paid attention to her.
“Jared took my calls," she said. "He didn’t just send me to somebody else. He personally responded. That’s so important.”