Why Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Wins Praise From Liberals — And Conservatives

by | Nov 8, 2022 | Politics

PUEBLO, Colo. — Gov. Jared Polis (D) is up for reelection on Tuesday.But unless you’re reading the local news, you might not have heard anything about it. That’s at least partly because the race is not very competitive. Polis is projected to defeat Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl by a wide margin.Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a state, has quietly become one of the more unique figures in Democratic politics. AdvertisementA former member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus during his decade in the House of Representatives, Polis has won praise from progressives for expanding kindergarten in Colorado and creating a universal preschool program. But he also has gotten credit from conservatives for opposing income taxes and eschewing the strict COVID-19 public health policies of some other Democratic-led states.HuffPost caught up with Polis briefly before he spoke at a political rally in a historic train station in Pueblo on Oct. 30. We discussed his efforts to reduce the cost of living in Colorado, his policy response to the pandemic, and whether he supports a second term for President Joe Biden.Below is a transcript of that interview, condensed and lightly edited for clarity.Polling suggests you’re on track to defeat your Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl by double digits. Why do you have such broad appeal across the ideological spectrum?I want to stay focused on the results. For my State of the State speech about a year ago, I sang a variation of a famous Paul Simon song, “50 ways to save you money.” And we got over 100 things done to save people money. AdvertisementBecause whether people are a Republican or a Democrat, they want government to do what we can to reduce fees and costs, free preschool and kindergarten, capping the out-of-pocket cost of insulin, cut the income tax, cut the property — just practical things that people want to meet the moment, which is, “Costs are going up. We want you to do something about it.” We did our best to get ahead of it. A lot of conservatives have praised you for differing from other Democrats in your approach to COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. That includes rejecting calls for a state-level vaccine mandate. Explain to me your thinking on that and whether you think other Democrats might have made mistakes by going too far in the other direction.We’ve leaned into individual responsibility in Colorado, which is very consistent with our culture as a state. We’re a fiercely independent state that values our freedom. And people make the right choices when you do your best to get good information to them. So we focused on getting good information about the benefits of the vaccine and the importance of mask-wearing.But we really trusted individuals and communities because we’re also a very diverse state, and there are areas that experienced the pandemic that are as diverse as Boulder, Pueblo and Sterling, and they handled it in different ways. And we really supported all the ways, because on the ground there were people with goodwill trying to do the best they could to balance the public support needed to take the steps necessary to protect people’s lives.I ask in part because in September, President Biden got out there and said, “The pandemic is over.” And then the White House downplayed the remarks.AdvertisementWe ended all the health measures a year before that announcement. Because we felt that people have the information they need to make their own smart choices about whether to go out to concerts, whether to wear masks, whether to be vaccinated. We have one of the higher vaccination rates in the country, and as a direct result, we have the eighth-lowest death rate in the country from COVID. [The state currently ranks a bit higher in COVID-19 deaths per capita.]Did some Democrats make mistakes though by keeping schools closed too long or by firing city and state employees who declined to get vaccinated?I would focus on how some Republicans leaned into empower …

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