Peter Marcus’ interview last weekend with Rep. Jared Polis, in which Polis muses about the possibility of running for governor, is not itself newsbreaking–but renewed speculation about Polis making a run for governor in 2018 is nonetheless provoking a fair amount of discussion this week and deserves a mention in this space:
“I’m going to be deciding in the next month or two whether or not to launch a statewide race for governor,” Polis, a five-term congressman for the 2nd Congressional District, told Colorado Politics in his most extensive interview on the subject.
Wearing a blazer and a polo shirt, Polis’ eyes light up as he talks about the possibilities: “I’ve been really focused on where I can make the biggest impact on improving our schools and protecting our environment and how to make these vast changes that are occurring work for Colorado families.
“There’s a lot of frustration out there because people feel that the deck is stacked against them.”
Polis’ entrance into the gubernatorial race – an open seat next year with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper being term limited – could shakeup an already crowded Democratic primary. He has name recognition and wealth.
There’s no question that Rep. Polis running for governor would shake up the race. We would speculate that Polis getting in would be very bad for the two “lesser” candidates running against Perlmutter, former Sen. Mike Johnston and former Treasurer Cary Kennedy, and would quickly reshape the primary into a two-man contest.
With that said, we’re inclined to give Perlmutter the edge in a matchup between himself and Rep. Polis at this point, in large part due to Perlmutter’s great skill at retail politics–as well as fundraising prowess to match Polis’ ability to self-fund. The caveat we are obliged to note is Polis’ leadership from the left on oil and gas issues, stoutly defending local residential communities in his district who have struggled with drilling inside their boundaries. There is significant pent-up frustration within the Democratic base on this issue, and that could be in Polis’ mind as he contemplates a primary bid against Perlmutter.
It’s important to remember that Polis has not committed to a run, and there are plenty of reasons why he wouldn’t ultimately choose to make the jump from his relatively safe congressional seat to the governor’s race. It’s possible that this is more about pressuring Perlmutter to make a clean break with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s fracking-friendly administration than it is about Polis really wanting to be governor.
Obviously, we’ll be watching closely for developments here.