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2008 Top Ten #6: Rep.-elect Jared Polis

One of this year’s most interesting success stories, Rep.-elect Jared Polis’ long road to glory, not to mention history as the first openly gay man elected to Congress…started out a little bumpy.

Most people agree that his early primary campaign was a calamitous affair, with Polis showing commitment in the form of large personal checks but little else to suggest he was serious about winning. He was plagued with terrible media relations, too often entirely self-inflicted, which resulted in “Polis bias” hostility in press coverage about his run. Add a few eye-popping off-reservation moments and totally unnecessary contributions from infamous right-wingers and you had what looked very much in the spring of this year like a train wreck in the making.

But then something changed: people are quick to say that Polis merely started writing even bigger checks to himself, and it’s true that Polis ultimately self-funded to an unprecedented extent even by his own internal projections–but that’s not the full story. The whole strategic landscape of the primary began to shift with Polis’ belated hiring of Robert Becker as campaign manager, who immediately set to work plugging the endless flow of gaffes and press mishandlings, turned Polis’ halting field campaign into an incredibly efficient (and massive) operation, and pressed home key attacks against Polis’ opponent in a way they never managed before. Polis rolled to victory August 12th over a much more experienced and institutionally-supported frontrunner.

Bottom line? The mercurial and often-sidetracked Polis decided sometime in there that he actually wanted to win this seat, and stopped treating his campaign like a startup tech tinker toy that somebody else was responsible for. That diffidence, or aloofness, of whatever you want to call it, was all that ever stood between him and inevitability.

And now that he’s elected, he’s finding life as a prominent, courted, fabulously wealthy freshman on Capitol Hill pretty cool, as we discussed a few weeks ago:

Markey’s anticipated high profile adds to the big coup scored earlier by fellow incoming freshman Jared Polis, whose appointment to the pivotal Steering Committee gives him instant major-player status. Not to mention he’ll be critical to helping other Coloradans get on the right committees (nudge).

John Salazar’s recent appointment to the powerful Appropriations Committee is a pretty clear indicator that Polis is putting his newfound influence to good work for the rest of the state. And Polis will be a reliable Democratic vote on the key initiatives next year–don’t let his occasional veering into “free-market” fantasyland trouble you overly. The Bill Gatesy out-of-box thinking was part of his appeal to many voters for good or ill, and reality will smack the unworkable stuff down without anybody’s help.

Congratulations to Rep.-elect Polis, while we can’t predict his whole future we feel pretty confident that his election to Congress will not be the last history he makes.

Fitz-Gerald-Polis Pissing Match Gets, Uh, Pissier

Earlier today the campaign for Democrat Joan Fitz-Gerald called on Jared Polis to pull a misleading ad. According to a press release:

Today the Fitz-Gerald campaign sent a letter to Mr. Robert Becker of the Jared Polis campaign requesting that the Jared Polis campaign pull an ad in which he makes statements that he and his campaign manager had already acknowledged as false. (See attached letter.)

The advertisement knowingly and willingly misleads voters with the statement “Joan Fitz-Gerald Negative Ad,” which is in direct violation of Colorado Revised Statute 1-13-109 and is a class 1 misdemeanor.  According to Colorado Revised Statute 18-1.3-501 a class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a minimum sentence of six-months imprisonment or $500 fine or both and a maximum sentence of 18-months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine or both.

“This ad is false and violates Colorado statute,” said campaign manager Mary Alice Mandarich. “I would like to give you the opportunity to pull this false advertisement. CD2 voters deserve better. As someone who has made campaign reform and clean elections the cornerstone of his campaign, we know Jared will correct this mistake.”

This letter was also forwarded to Denver television stations who are running a false commercial.

In response, Polis campaign manager Robert Becker issued a curt, comma-filled response:

Dear Ms. Mandarich,


Senator Fitz-Gerald has had numerous opportunities to renounce the so-called “Colorado Count’s” ad attacking Jared Polis’ education record. Despite the attacks being called “despicable” by the press, Joan Fitz-Gerald has decided to remain silent.

As you can see from the attached video, Fitz-Gerald, when presented the opportunity to show leadership refused – opting instead for the “I-can’t-know-who-anybody-is” response. Trouble is, you know exactly who they are – two special interest lobbyist friends of your campaign – Steve Adams ($1500 campaign donor) and Collon Kennedy ($2300 donor and former high level aide to Fitz-Gerald).

Under no circumstances can we remain silent while two special interest lobbyists friends of Senator Fitz-Gerald run disparaging ads against Jared Polis.

The choices presented to your campaign are clear: Show leadership and publicly denounce the ads being run by your cronies at Colorado Counts, or to quote Senator Fitz-Gerald in the attached video, “If something comes up, you just live with it.”


Robert Becker

Who's Right? Who's Wrong? Who Cares?

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Polis Kicks In Another $1.6 Million, New Record

As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Jared Polis has set a record for self-funded campaigns in Colorado after adding $1.6 million to his war chest in July, raising his personal contributions to $5.3 million.

The total is more than the combined total of what his two Democratic primary opponents, Joan Fitz-Gerald and Will Shafroth, have raised in the open 2nd Congressional District seat.

Added with the money he has pulled in from donors and political committees, Polis has raised $6.4 million.

Fitz-Gerald’s campaign called the record “sad,” noting that Polis, an Intranet entrepreneur, declared last year that he did not intend to exceed what was then the self-funding threshold of $350,000.

“It’s a bad thing because it says that in our country, if you are an extremely wealthy person, you can run for office and get elected,” said Mary Alice Mandarich, Fitz-Gerald’s campaign manager. “What does it say to the common man – who this country was founded on – about their ability to get elected to office?”

Polis campaign manager Robert Becker defended self-funding as a more honest fundraising method than Fitz-Gerald’s receipt of over $270,000 from political action committees.

Polis earned the money he is spending; he will not be beholden to any special-interest groups if elected, Becker said…

The state self-funding record had belonged to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Benson, who gave himself $3.7 million in 1994.

So, ah, those ads? Get used to ’em.

Pat Schroeder On The Air For Polis

That’s one way to do it: answer a Colorado stateswoman with the archetype Colorado stateswoman. “Thanks, Pat!” Release follows.

Polis unveils new TV ad featuring former Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder


CONTACT: Robert Becker (303) 381-0121

Statement from Robert Becker, campaign manager, Polis for Congress:

“In the midst of Joan Fitz-Gerald’s ongoing, desperate personal attacks against both Jared Polis and Will Shafroth, we are proud to release our latest TV ad featuring legendary former Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder.”

Pat Schroeder: I’m Pat Schroeder, and I used to represent Colorado in Congress. I’ve known Jared Polis for fifteen years and he has a heart as big as our state. He took the money he made in business and used it to help people – opening a school for homeless children, giving grants to great teachers. What makes Jared stand out is his ability to get things done and to make a real difference.  If anyone can shake things up in Washington, it’s Jared Polis.

Jared Polis: I’m Jared Polis and I approve this message. Thanks, Pat.

Click link to view ad:…


New 527 Ad Debuts Against Polis

UPDATE #4: The Polis campaign was forced to…ah, modify its original statement. Politics West reports:

After further review, the Polis camp concedes that Corporate Advocates and Jep Seman had nothing to do with the attack ad. But further research found that Steve Adams, the man who is responsible, works for Colorado Communique, a group that represents BP Global among other companies.

“Our apologies to Mr. Seman,” says Polis campaign manager Robert Becker. “We made the incorrect assumption that he was the big oil lobbyist behind the ads. It appears there’s a different big oil lobbyist behind the ad that happens to share the same office suite.”

…Fitz-Gerald’s campaign immediately distanced itself from the ad, the first negative TV spot of a contentious and expensive race for the 2nd Congressional District.

Clears that up, except for the most important question for the Polis camp, which is who is paying for the ads. In addition to representing BP, Steve Adams is the former head of the Colorado AFL-CIO with all kinds of friends and enemies–enjoy the guessing game, though we strongly caution against continuing to guess out loud in press releases.

UPDATE #3: The Polis campaign just sent out a press release responding to this ad. Says campaign manager Robert Becker, “It [is] unfortunate, yet predictable, that Joan Fitz-Gerald’s oil lobbyist friends would launch negative attacks against Jared Polis” (release follows).

UPDATE #2: Helpfully supplied by a reader:

UPDATE: Quicktime users can watch the video on Colorado Counts’ quickie website.

There is a new ad airing in the CD-2 race attacking candidate Jared Polis, paid for by a new independent committee called Colorado Counts. We’re looking for a YouTube of it to show, no doubt one of you already has it (we’re smiling as we type that). It’s a pretty hard shot on Polis’ education record.

On a related note, we also heard more from a corroborating source today about the poll (some say “push poll”) trolling various known Polis negatives that caused a considerable ruckus last week. Contrary to previous speculation, many people seem to have heard that the poll was in fact conducted on behalf of persons affiliated with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, who we’re told are also principal funders of the TV buy for “Colorado Counts.”

This would, if true, maybe not be a great thing for the Fitz-Gerald camp to see publicized, as the next logical question would be why the much-maligned COGA would care enough about this liberal Democrat primary to make such an investment–potentially segueing nicely into Polis’ “Big Oil Sweetheart” charge against Fitz-Gerald.

But frankly, there are enough faulty/intentionally misinforming rumors about this race to fill a warehouse these days, even from people one would otherwise “trust,” so we’ll leave it to our readers to do their usual excellent job sorting this out via pie fight.


CONTACT: Robert Becker – 303.381.0121

Joan Fitz-Gerald’s Oil Lobbyist Friends Launch False, Negative TV attack against Jared Polis

(Boulder, CO) – Last night a new TV ad from a brand new organization with ties to Joan Fitz-Gerald – “Colorado Counts” – began airing $155,000 of negative attacks against Jared Polis on Denver stations.

“It unfortunate, yet predictable, that Joan Fitz-Gerald’s oil lobbyist friends would launch negative attacks against Jared Polis,” charged Robert Becker, Polis for Congress campaign manager.

“Jared is after all the one candidate in this race who refuses to take special interest PAC money and will stand up to the Big Oil lobbyists in Washington. Joan Fitz-Gerald on the other hand takes corporate PAC money and was the sponsor of their ‘Oil-Industry Dream Bill,’ according to the Denver Post.”

Who is this new group “Colorado Counts”?

Address Listed on Colorado Secretary of State Filing is Address of Lobbying Firm (2008)

In July 2008, Colorado Counts registered as a limited liability corporation with the Colorado Secretary of State.  On the filings, the group listed their principal address as 1660 Lincoln Street, Ste 3050, Denver, Colorado.  This address is the same address listed for the lobbying firm Corporate Advocates, “a full-service lobbying, issues management and public relations firm.”  (Colorado Secretary of State Web Site, “Business Search: Colorado Counts,”;  Corporate Advocated Web Site, “Contact Us,”;  Corporate Advocated Web Site, “What We Do,”

Head of Government Relations for Corporate Advocates Sits on Board of Colorado Petroleum Association (2008)

In July 2008, Corporate Advocates listed Jep Seman as the head of government relations for the lobbying firm.  The company web site listed several positions that Seman held currently or in the past, including currently serving on the board of the Colorado Petroleum Association.  He also served as a past president of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association:

“Mr. Seman sits on the Boards of the Colorado Petroleum Association, Warren Village Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation, and is the past president of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association.” (Corporate Advocated Web Site, “Who We Are,”

Jep Seman Contributed $1,250 to Fitz-Gerald (2007-2008)

In 2007 and 2008, Seman contributed $1,250 to the Congressional campaign of Joan Fitz-Gerald.  The table below details the contributions:

Recipient Date Amount

Joan Fitz-Gerald 6/30/2007 $500

Joan Fitz-Gerald 3/31/2008 $500

Joan Fitz-Gerald 12/31/2007 $250

TOTAL $1,250

(Open Secrets Web Site, “Donor Lookup: Jep Seman,”

Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips listed as Lobbying Clients (2008)

In 2008, Corporate Advocates listed a number of oil and gas companies as their clients in Colorado, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Conoco Phillips.  (Colorado Secretary of State Web Site, “Lobbyist Search: Corporate Advocates,”


Polis Responds to Fitz-Gerald “Push Polls”

UPDATE: Fitz-Gerald campaign denies they are the source of negative phone calls against Polis.

This past week saw the first negative retail campaigning in the CD-2 race. Candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald’s campaign has apparently been making phone calls to targeted voters directly attacking opponent Jared Polis, though it’s unclear whether these were simply “robocalls” or live operators.

Robocalls and phone banks are certainly much cheaper to roll out than Polis’ massive TV blitz, and they’re a reliable tool in the box of old-school campaign hands, but the very act of calling–especially going overtly negative on the phone–has its own pitfalls, particularly if it becomes a public dispute. On the upside, messages can be planted on voters under the radar of the media, as long as you don’t get stung by bad press when they get wind of it. And for God’s sake, don’t call during dinner or in the middle of the night.

We were “leaked” an “internal memo” from the Polis camp to staff with counterpoints for these calls (follows). The best thing the Polis campaign can probably do about them is complain as loudly as possible to supporters and the press, in the hope that the attacks in the call will get swamped by pushback about the calling. What’s your take on the efficacy of campaign smile-and-dial?

From: Robert Becker (

Date: July 7, 2008 1:16:41 PM MDT

Subject: Response to Fitz-Gerald’s negative phoning

ALL FIELD STAFF – Forward this along to all your key leaders in the Field. Thanks.


TO: Field Organizers, Neighborhood Leaders, and Key Polis Supporters

FR: Robert Becker, Campaign Manager

RE: Response to Fitz-Gerald’s negative phoning

As many of you know, we have received scores of calls/emails/complaints about Joan Fitz-Gerald’s negative phone calling last week. While unfortunate, this is not surprising – Joan Fitz-Gerald has been pretty much 100% negative for the past several months.

If this is the kind of campaign she wants to run, so be it – it will backfire. Voters have been consistently rejecting these kinds of tactics. Of the many emails we received at headquarters, this one says it best:

“Jared – You probably already know but someone is running a Push Poll against you… It’s pretty over the top… I had been having a hard time deciding who to vote for… no more. I don’t like being treated like a moron. I will vote for you, and will be telling my friends why. Good luck. At this point I’d hate to see Fitz-Gerald win.”

In the coming five weeks we can expect more of the same negative attacks from Fitz-Gerald and her allies (we recently learned that a Washington, DC-based special interest group is planning to spend $2 million on her behalf).

We will continue to run an issue-oriented, positive campaign… but we will not hesitate to defend Jared at the grassroots level vigorously. Some of the negative attacks in this so-called “push poll” that we have heard through feedback from voters were in fact “pretty over the top” (or just plain silly):

•      Polis was the driving force behind Amendment 41, which hurt Coloradans? Amendment 41 passed with 62% of the vote and it didn’t hurt Coloradans – it hurt lobbyists… by banning them from giving gifts to lawmakers (We actually want Fitz-Gerald to attack us on this!).

•      Polis’ campaign money has come from “Swift Boat Veterans”? Of the thousands of individual donations to Jared’s campaign it is true that a few came from people who also gave money to the anti-John Kerry “Swift Boat” campaign in 2004. The Fitz-Gerald campaign has been fixated on this for over six months now. The fact that Jared donated all monies received from them to charity several months ago seems to not matter to them. We are fairly confident that voters fretting over the rising cost of gas or the Iraq war could really care less about why a few conservative donors decided to send contributions to Jared.

But by far the most outrageous was her attack on Jared’s position on the Iraq war – Polis won’t commit to getting our troops out of Iraq? This is a pretty ironic claim coming from Joan Fitz-Gerald. After all she is the only candidate in this race who voted to praise George W. Bush’s leadership on the Iraq war – TWICE!

Jared Polis has opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. Furthermore he helped formulate a well thought-out, 32-page plan to end the war and bring our troops home that has been endorsed by over 50 progressive Democratic congressional candidates across the country. Polis’ Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq can be found online at:…

Based on our internal polling all of your hard work is paying off – voters are responding to Jared’s message of positive change and rejecting the Fitz-Gerald attacks. Keep up the hard work!

Robert Becker

Campaign Manager

Jared Polis for Congress

Polis Campaign At Full Tilt

Did you think he was just going to sit on that $2.1 million?

In some ways, noting this is a little redundant: you can’t turn on a TV in the Denver/Boulder market without seeing CD-2 candidate Jared Polis’ new ads. We’ve heard the media buy for Polis is enormous; hundreds of thousands of dollars per week, in early June with no reason to believe the saturation-level presence will ease at all before the August 12 primary. It’s an unprecedented media blitz for a Colorado congressional primary, and all indications are that opponent Joan Fitz-Gerald is (understandably) getting quite nervous about it. There’s just no way her campaign will be able to match this level of activity for two straight months.

Equally important: under new and competent management, the Polis campaign’s steady flow of embarrassing gaffes and boomerang stunts has been shut off. Robert Becker is proving himself worthy of the fat checks he’s collecting to right Polis’ ship, and we’re seeing strength in this campaign that would have changed the whole complexion of the race six months ago. If Becker had been in charge in January we might be looking at a very different Big Line right now.

But this isn’t January, it’s June, and many voters’ minds are already made up in this race. At this point Polis deserves the up-arrow we’ve assigned him on the Line, but can his newfound momentum get him over the finish line first? We still have our doubts. A poll follows.

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Polis Gets Wonky On Energy

Continuing what the Jared Polis campaign sees as a theme worth pressing home (if you filled up your tank recently, it’ll be tough to disagree), he announced a detailed energy plan today.

In addition to staking out a growing pocketbook issue, it’s meant to draw a hard distinction between himself and (putatively) “energy industry friendly” opponent Joan Fitz-Gerald, which he did manage to accomplish this time without raising any obvious points of order re:Alex Cranberg (note to new campaign manager).

We’ll leave it to our wonkier readers to pick through the bullet points, on our first read we found it, well, adequately wonky. Don’t get us wrong, a little wonk is good–particularly good for Polis, looking to show some depth to accompany his considerable breadth. Release follows.

Jared Polis Vows to Tackle Price-Gouging at the Pump, Bring Down Gas Prices, Move Country to Clean Energy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, June 4, 2004

CONTACT:  Robert Becker, (303) 381-0121

(Boulder, CO) – Jared Polis, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress in Colorado’s 2nd District, today outlined tough actions he will take if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to lower gas prices and move our nation towards energy independence and green energy policies.

“While big oil conglomerates are recording record profits, middle- and low-income families, consumers and businesses are struggling with staggering gas prices at the pump and the ‘oil tax,’ which is increasing the price of everything from groceries to airline tickets.  The American economy is gravely threatened,” said Jared Polis. “I will stand up to the big oil and gas industry if I get to Congress. I will fight for solutions to bring down soaring gas prices and halt the price gouging. I will push to end the tax subsidies, the giveaways and the rollbacks of royalties that big oil and gas have extracted from taxpayers. Congress has been far too timid. These are solutions we desperately need today if we are to make the investments in a green future in America.”

“There’s a real difference in this campaign. In the State Senate, Joan Fitz-Gerald sponsored legislation that was called the ‘Oil and Gas Dream Bill’ by newspapers. Now she’s complaining about $4 per gallon gas prices, but what did she expect after doing the bidding of the oil and gas lobby?  I’ll take a different approach and stand up to the special interests,” added Polis. “My career has been based on bringing new solutions to old problems, and I will do that in Congress. Consumers have been held hostage by oil and gas companies for too long.”

Jared Polis’ plan:

•      Strategic Petroleum Reserve – Jared Polis supports releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring market prices down immediately, and raising the possibility of additional future releases to drive speculators out of the market.

•      Tough anti-trust laws and enforcement – Congress must act forcefully to end market manipulation and illegal, anti-competitive practices in the oil industry. We need new antitrust legislation and enforcement to do it. There is too much concentration in the oil and gas industry today. I will push the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look closely at gas prices, and conduct thorough investigations for illegal market manipulation by the oil and gas giants, and swift, tough enforcement of penalties. More competitive markets will bring lower gas prices.

Mergers – like that between Exxon and Mobil ten years ago – have created entities that are too big and too powerful, and have directly resulted in higher gas prices at the pump, as was confirmed by a 2004 Government Accountability Office report. These corporate giants produce the crude oil, own the refineries, and sell the gasoline at the pump. As the FTC itself admitted in 2001, when oil companies own the refineries, it makes it simple to manipulate market prices. We need old-fashioned trust busting.  We need new a new generation of anti-trust legislation to deal with this new environment, and tough enforcement.

•      End tax giveaways to big oil – Jared Polis supports the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Act of 2008, HR 5351, legislation to strip $18 billion in oil company tax breaks that were enacted in 2004. He will push for repeal of all existing oil company tax breaks. We should be putting that money into solar, wind, alternative fuels and energy efficiency.

•      Regulating energy exchanges – We need tough new regulation, oversight and enforcement of OTC as well as regulated energy exchange markets.  Financial speculators are driving up the price of oil. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) must be strengthened and criminal sanctions should be enforced on speculators who violate the law.  

•      Protect public lands from drilling – Further drilling, exploitation and despoliation of wilderness areas like the Roan Plateau and ANWR proposed by the oil industry is not the answer. Jared Polis strongly opposes the Bureau of Land Management’s current plan to expand gas-drilling leases in the Roan Plateau. Instead, he wants to strengthen environmental protection of our pristine public lands. The oil and gas industry is exploiting the gas price crisis to rush along leases on our federal lands and argue for additional exploitation. Jared Polis believes that these are false solutions and only feed our reliance on fossil fuels.

•      Get the special interest money out of politics – The price of gas and the neglect of clean energy policies in Congress is the direct result of too much special interest money in politics. The oil industry pours millions of dollars into political campaigns every year. Too many members of Congress fear them. But Jared Polis is not afraid to stand up to them. That is also why we need, and he will fight for, public financing of campaigns and ‘Clean Money Clean Elections’ legislation in Congress. Jared Polis is the only candidate for the 2nd Congressional District not accepting money from Political Action Committees (PACs).

“For too long, our country’s energy policy has been written by and for the oil and gas industry. That must end. I will work with allies in and out Congress, like Public Citizen, and with citizens across the 2nd District to accomplish these urgent goals,” Polis said.


Polis Blasts “Sweetheart of Big Oil and Gas”

We’ve been commenting all season about CD-2 candidate Jared Polis’ propensity for staking out some bold policy position or really good sound bite, only to find himself accused of hypocrisy because of one of his financial holdings, prior on-record statements, et cetera.

Recently, though, Polis’ thorough campaign housecleaning seems to have put a stop to the bleed-out–and today he might actually have managed to make turnabout fair play. Whichever dog you have in this fight (if any), there’s no denying Polis’ return fire at opponent Joan Fitz-Gerald’s constituent blast from yesterday concerning gas prices vs. Jared’s big bucks is as good as you could possibly expect. It’s worded strongly, gets to the point, incorporates a harsh yet memorable nickname, and is well sourced–a refreshing change for those of us calling the play-by-play on this race (follows).

The Sweetheart of Big Oil and Gas Wrings Her Hands Over $4 Gas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2008                                    

CONTACT: Robert Becker, (303) 381-0121

(Boulder, CO) – Below is a statement from Robert Becker, Campaign Manager for Jared Polis:

“As you can see in the below email and in several news reports today, Senator Fitz-Gerald is suddenly very concerned about the rising cost of gas.

“Senator Fitz-Gerald ought to know something about the price of gas. After all, she is beholden to Colorado’s oil and gas special interests.

Fitz-Gerald sponsored a bill the Denver Post called an ‘oil and gas dream bill.’ She has received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from oil and gas executives and lobbyists and has voted consistently for their agenda in the legislature.

“She has accepted campaign contributions from oil and gas industry giants like El Paso Energy, Chevron Texaco and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association during the past 8 years. Jared Polis doesn’t accept a dime from Big Oil & Gas, and he won’t owe them a thing when he gets to Congress.

“It is highly hypocritical for Senator Fitz-Gerald to now criticize Jared Polis by invoking the price that families are paying for gas at the pump. The one thing that stands out in Senator Fitz-Gerald’s long career in the Legislature is her willingness to take the money of Big Oil & Gas and do them favors in return.

“Colorado families need a champion in Congress who will stand up to Big Oil & Gas, not someone ready to kowtow to the giant corporations gouging families at the pump.”


In February 2002, Senator Fitz-Gerald sponsored a bill [An Oil-Industry Dream Bill, Denver Post, 2/28/02, 2002 Colorado Legislature], which would have cut by half the royalty payments made by oil and gas companies to royalty owners – Colorado farmers and ranchers. Fitz-Gerald’s legislation sought to overturn a court ruling that prohibited transportation and processing costs from being deducted from royalty payments.

She said that the legislation would help the oil and gas industry, and without the industry no one would make any money from the resources:

“If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, then nothing from nothing is nothing”  [Colorado Senate Likely to Approve Natural Gas Production Payout Bill, Denver Post, 2/21/02]. Opponents of the bill rightly said that it was a product of “special interest greed” and would harm the royalty owners. See the bill:…

According to the Denver Post at the time:

“The state legislature appears ready to kowtow to the oil and gas industry despite potential harm to thousands of Colorado farmers, ranchers and other landowners.

“A pending measure, SB 141, could cut in half the royalties natural gas companies pay to people who own private mineral rights. But the broader question is why state lawmakers are carrying water for the oil and gas industry” [Denver Post, 2/28/02].

Robert Becker

Campaign Manager

Jared Polis for Congress

Begin forwarded message:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Mary Alice Mandarich

Date: Fri, May 30, 2008 at 2:03 PM

Subject: $3.67 million: Can this election be bought?


Dear James,

This summer most Americans are thinking about how they are going to fill their gas tanks, pay for healthcare services and make sure their kids can have an affordable education. These are all issues Joan has dealt with in her own family and these are the issues Joan pledges to fight for in Congress. Meanwhile, Jared Polis has just personally contributed another $2.1 million to pay for his campaign for congress this brings his personal total to $3.67 million. As I said in the Boulder Daily Camera,”It’s like ‘Monopoly’ money,Jared is playing a game where he is trying to buy the election.” Help show Jared that the people of CD2 deserve someone who understands the issues they struggle with every day by making a contribution today.

Throughout this race Joan has counted on the grassroots support of small donors like you to compete with Jared’s immense personal wealth. Please consider making a contribution of $25, $50, $75 or $100 today to help us get Joan’s message out .

Also consider supporting our grassroots fundraising efforts by attending any one of our upcoming house parties.

Saturday, June 7th, 10:00-11:30am Coffee in Boulder’s University Area

Saturday, June 14th, 5:30-7:00pm Garden Party at the Home of Britta & Ken Singer in South Boulder

Saturday, June 21st, 3:00, Golden (Lookout Mountain), 100% Solar Powered Home

If you are interested in any of these events email Sara or call the campaign at 303-487-1111.

Its time to get moving,

Mary Alice Mandarich

Campaign Manager


Polis Does Surprisingly Well at CD-2 Assembly

The biggest primary fight in Colorado saw movement today, with the assembly in CD-2 ending up with a result both predictable and unpredictable.

The predictable part? Front-runner Joan Fitz-Gerald received 60% of the vote. That is, a solid majority, which is of course all that will matter on August 12th.

But we would be lying if we didn’t note that opponent Jared Polis did better than expected, improving his standing from the county assemblies (a shaky and question-inviting 30%) to a much more respectable 40% of votes cast. It’s a substantial move that you can bet the Polis camp won’t let anyone forget about between now and August.

We attribute this better showing largely to staff and strategic changes made by Polis in the last few weeks; new campaign manager Robert Becker is proving himself to be a worthy addition by all accounts, and he worked hard since being hired recently on giving Polis better numbers to make his case with over the summer.

Release follows: Polis still has much ground to make up in a relatively short period of time, but it’s possible we may at some point look back on reports of his imminent demise and find them a little premature.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                               MAY 10, 2008

CONTACT: Dayna Hanson, (720) 936-7034 or




WESTMINSTER, CO – Jared Polis today secured 40% of the vote at the CD2 Democratic Assembly, gaining eight percentage points over rival Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald in the primary ballot fight leading up to August’s primary election.

Before 800 Democratic activists, Gina Salazar of Adams County and Boulder resident and former candidate for U.S. Senate Josie Heath nominated Polis to be placed on the August ballot.

“We are the Democratic Party,” said Polis in his remarks before the crowd. “But this election is not about us, it’s not about my opponent, it’s about the very future and soul of our country.”

Polis, an education advocate and leader in the non-profit community, is gaining momentum. Following the last County Assembly that took place in Boulder on March 15, Polis came out with a little over 30% of the delegate count.  

“I am thrilled,” said Polis. “We are working hard and together, with my volunteers and supporters, we will continue to get our message of hope and opportunity out to the voters of the 2nd CD.”

A staunch advocate of a firm plan for withdrawal from Iraq, Polis addressed the war in his speech, saying, “We have a tremendous opportunity to change our country this year. But with that opportunity come tremendous challenges.

“We must end this war – not with rhetoric alone, but with a specific plan and set of actions to bring this war of choice to an honorable end.”

Polis recently co-authored the Responsible Plan to end the war in Iraq – . The Plan has received broad nationwide support and has been endorsed by over fifty candidates nationwide.

“There was quite a bit of hard work that went into today’s Assembly,” added Polis. “I want to thank Terry Phillips and the entire organizational committee who helped to pull off such a fantastic day.”

The next step for the candidates is the primary election to be held on August 12th.


Polis Hires New Campaign Manager

CD-2 candidate Jared Polis announced today that he has hired a new campaign manager and online director, completing a shake-up that began with the departure of former manager Wanda James last month.

Release follows: decent resumes, will this be the fresh perspective that Polis so desperately needs? The buzz on new manager Robert Becker is quite positive.

MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                                                                                                                                    APRIL 29, 2008

CONTACT: Dayna Hanson, (720) 936-7034 or



   BOULDER, CO – Jared Polis today announced that he has hired Robert Becker to take over as Campaign Manager and Michael Eck as the campaign’s Internet Director.

   Becker, a twenty year political veteran, most recently worked for the Sierra Club in New Mexico and last year served as Governor Bill Richardson’s Iowa State Director for his presidential run.  In 2000 he served as Regional Field Director for Senator Bill Bradley for the Iowa Caucuses, and as State Director for the Washington State Primary and Caucuses. Additionally, Becker has extensive experience working on international campaigns and elections, including the 2002 Zimbabwe presidential election for the opposition party.

   “Presently, and throughout my career, I have been committed to working for progressive candidates who will be real catalysts for change,” said Robert. “Jared is one of those people and I am looking forward to leading the team through the primary and general election in November.”

   “We are very excited to welcome Robert to our team,” said Polis. “His experience, political instinct and guidance will be crucial for our victory in August and November.”

   In addition to a new campaign manager, Polis added an Internet Director to his team. Michael Eck comes to the campaign with over nine years of successful professional experience in web design in the government and financial services industries, as well as working on projects for Obama’s Colorado campaign operation.

   “It’s incredibly exciting for me to be working for such a progressive candidate on such a cutting-edge campaign,” said Eck. “Given Jared’s background in the technosphere, and the current political environment that demands such in-depth interaction with the netroots, we will find innovative ways to use the Internet as a tool to get our message out to the voters.”

   “We welcome both Robert and Michael to our team,” added Polis.


Primary Day Winners

Just like in real life, losers follow the winners. Today, click below to read our WINNERS from Tuesday’s Primary.

Doug Lamborn

Lamborn is a big winner not just because he won a three-way primary on Tuesday, but because he probably ended any future challenges by doing so. He has absolutely no chance of rising any higher than he is now, so Lamborn is officially “Congressman for Life,” or at least “Congressman Until Drastic Redistricting.”

Either Jeff Crank or Bentley Rayburn could have beaten Lamborn in a straight fight, but the ego of Rayburn (clearly the lesser challenger) prevailed instead. Two years after a tough six-way primary, CD-5 again played out like a Shakespearean tragedy – a tale won by an idiot.

Jared Polis

Indisputably the biggest winner of Tuesday, Polis overcame a laughably bad campaign in the early going, changed managers, imposed some self-discipline, and rode his new strategy (and his wallet, of course) to victory in CD-2.

After a disastrous first six months on the campaign trail, Polis seemed destined to join the list of eccentric rich guys who bumbled their way through an ill-advised attempt at moving out from being behind the scenes. His Amendment 41 was a disaster (and still is, to be fair), and combined with his goofy congressional campaign, Polis was a few months from a permanent place as a snide joke in Colorado political circles. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact, that friends were quietly suggesting that Polis withdraw from the race in order to live to fight another day.

When you’re as wealthy as Polis, you often end up being surrounded – intentionally and unintentionally – by people who just tell you what they think you want to hear and insist that you can spend your way out of trouble. It takes some real fortitude to admit when things are going wrong with your campaign and make a change in midstream, as Polis did in dumping Manager Wanda James and hiring the much more seasoned Robert Becker. We said a year ago that Polis was wrong to go with the inexperienced James in the first place, instead of using his limitless resources to find a top talent nationally, but he ended up making the right move before it was too late.

Becker gets a good deal of credit here, of course (more on him in a minute), but the biggest and most important change in Polis came in his own self-discipline. With the exception of his weird attack on talk-show host Jay Marvin and his producer, Polis buckled down for the last few months, stayed on message and (finally) stopped tripping over his own shoelaces. Polis spent a long time trying to use his money to erase his mistakes (like hiring a bunch of lobbyists to help him with Amendment 41 in early 2007), but when he finally learned to just become a better candidate, he was on his way to winning the congressional seat that he has been dreaming about for years.

Robert Becker

You don’t hear a lot of nice personal things about Becker from those who have met him, but Karl Rove wasn’t a success because he was everybody’s favorite drinking buddy. In a state that has largely been dominated by the same consultants for years, Becker just earned his place on the speed dial of a new generation of candidates.

Becker was sold to the Polis campaign as the best strategist money can buy (and he was expensive), and he didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the massive ad buys that any old consultant could have put together – it was Becker’s construction of a huge field apparatus that ground-pounded virtually all of CD-2 in the months leading up to the vote. That Polis was able to perform strongly in Fitz-Gerald strongholds like Jefferson County isn’t because he was on TV more than everyone (although that didn’t hurt), it was because his ground operation was better. Sure, much of that had to do with the fact that Polis could pay for a bigger ground attack, but Becker made it work and beat the favored Fitz-Gerald at her own game.

Will Shafroth

Shafroth was never really in contention in CD-2, but no loser came out of Tuesday’s primaries looking better than the erstwhile unknown Shafroth. You could argue (as we would) that going on television in February or March would have been a worthwhile gamble that might have put Shafroth in position for the upset, but that doesn’t diminish what he did accomplish. Shafroth ran a clean campaign and ended up with the endorsement of both the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post. He raised enough money to show that he could be a serious candidate, and the money also allowed him to say hello to a lot of regular voters. He may have come in third in a three-way race, but Shafroth will now be near the front of the Democratic bench when future races are considered.

Mike Coffman

Even the most hardened of political observers has to at least feel somewhat happy for Coffman. For years Coffman won election after election, biding his time until it was his turn to run for Governor in 2006 (which had always been his ultimate dream). But then he was unceremoniously pushed aside for Bob Beauprez, who went on to wage the worst campaign Colorado has ever seen while Coffman dutifully stepped back and was elected Secretary of State. Fool me once…

When Coffman decided to run for congress in CD-6, GOP leaders like State Party Chair Dick Wadhams urged him to stay in office for fear that he would win the congressional seat and give the SOS office over to the Democrats (Gov. Ritter can appoint Coffman’s successor when the latter is sworn-in to Congress). Republican heavyweights told Coffman to take another one for the team while Wil Armstrong, whose only dues were paid to a country club, stepped in for the brass ring that is a lifetime congressional seat in CD-6. Coffman told Wadhams and friends to shove it up their ass and went on to beat the snot out of Armstrong despite a litany of endorsements for Bill’s son. Coffman could have done right by the “Party faithful” and just run for re-election as SOS, but who’s to say that when it was time for him to run for another office, like Governor in 2014, that he wouldn’t have just been elbowed out of the way once more. We can’t blame Coffman for that, and nobody who’s honest with themselves can either.


Coffman’s primary victory and inevitable November drubbing of nobody Hank Eng means that Democrats will get to put someone into the Secretary of State’s office in January. Whoever is appointed will get a two-year head start on a Republican challenger before running for re-election in 2010, all but assuring that no strong GOPer will bother.

The Postal Service

Reports from across Colorado showed a huge mail ballot turnout, and short, if nonexistent, lines on Election Day. We’re going to look back on 2008 as the year that election strategy changed forever in Colorado, with the overwhelming majority of voters choosing to fill out their ballots early and quietly. Now we’ll see if the newspapers figure it out in time to make their endorsements for the General Election; endorsing a candidate three weeks out is now almost meaningless, as Shafroth and other endorsed losers found out.

Who is the Biggest Winner from Tuesday?

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Cyanide Mining Fight More Than “Usual” Bickering

UPDATE: Polis keeps the pressure on with a blast mail to his substantial email constituent list (follows).

As we noted a couple of days ago, and the Denver Post’s Jessica Fender writes for Politics West:

The recent flap over Joan Fitz-Gerald’s 2004 advocacy for using cyanide to mine gold – a process environmentalists object to – did more than launch the typical attacks from the two 2nd CD candidates who love to bicker. You know who they are.

It left third candidate and long-time conservationist Will Shafroth, who has so far stayed quiet on the attack front, joining opponent Jared Polis in openly criticizing Fitz-Gerald.

“It is unfortunate in a district like the 2nd Congressional District where past representatives have been such stalwarts for the environment that a candidate … would be a supporter of cyanide heap leach mining,” Shafroth said in a statement. “I have not and will not support this type of mining – it poisons our environment.”

So why suddenly start weighing in on the brawl between Fitz-Gerald and Polis?

“She supports the use of cyanide heap mining and Will does not,” said Shafroth’s spokeswoman Lynea Hansen. “This is a very important distinction.”

Incidently, nether does Polis.

Dear Friend,

In the closing days of this primary election a startling policy difference has emerged between Jared Polis and Joan Fitz-Gerald on the use of cyanide in mining. Cyanide leach mines consistently contaminate water resources with cyanide placing human, wildlife and environmental health at great risk.

With the Summitville mine disaster in 1992, Colorado learned of the extreme dangers of cyanide leach mining the hard way in what has been called the “costliest mining disaster in US history”:

“Cyanide, heavy metals, and acid mine drainage from the Summitville mine killed all aquatic life within 17 miles of the Alamosa River.” – SOURCE: “Banning cyanide use in mining,” State Environmental Resource Center,…

The policy difference between Jared Polis and Joan Fitz-Gerald is very simple.

Jared Polis:

“When it comes to protecting our environment, there is right and there is wrong. I strongly believe the use of cyanide is wrong and I will fight for a law to ban its use.”

Joan Fitz-Gerald:

“… [Fitz-Gerald] supports whatever method of extraction is safest, including cyanide mining.”

– SOURCE: Denver Post, August 6, 2008

Cyanide mining is not safe. In fact, there is not an environmentalist alive who thinks using cyanide is safe.

Joan Fitz-Gerald has gone to great lengths to try to convince voters she is a leader on environmental issues. However, she has taken thousands of dollars in special interest PAC money from the mining industry and, even worse, this week it was revealed she did them a “special favor” in 2004 when she tried to stop Summit County from banning the use of cyanide.

Cyanide leach mining is not safe.

Jared Polis will ban the use of cyanide in mining. Joan Fitz-Gerald did the bidding of the mining industry and supports the use of cyanide.

Grab your nearest environmentalist (we like to call them citizens) and make sure voters understand what is at stake on Election Day!


Robert Becker

Campaign Manager, Polis for Congress

Fitz-Gerald Faces Tough Cyanide Mining Questions

UPDATE: In a totally unexpected development (cough), opponent Jared Polis calls for a ban on cyanide mining. Release follows.

UPDATE: by popular demand, here’s the letter Fitz-Gerald sent to Summit County in 2004 opposing the ban on cyanide mining.

As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Second Congressional District candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald is drawing fire from her Democratic rivals for her opposition to a 2004 ban on cyanide mining in Summit County.

Fitz-Gerald, then a state senator, encouraged a county commissioner to block efforts by “anti-mining activists” to prohibit the use of cyanide to extract tiny amounts of gold from ore. Environmentalists say the technique pollutes water supplies.

In a letter, Fitz-Gerald accused activists of making “misleading and exaggerated statements about Colorado’s gold mining industry . . . I encourage you not to be misled by such statements and set such a negative precedent in Summit County for banning lawfully regulated business practices.”

Fitz-Gerald’s primary opponents, Will Shafroth and Jared Polis, said the letter suggests she was looking out for mining interests over environmental concerns. Until now, Shafroth generally has stayed out of the charges and countercharges flying between Fitz-Gerald and Polis. [Pols emphasis]

The Fitz-Gerald letter “appears to us to be a special favor for a special interest friend,” said Robert Becker, Polis’ campaign manager. Becker has repeatedly criticized Fitz-Gerald for accepting money from political action committees associated with the mining and energy industries.

But Fitz-Gerald’s campaign manager Mary Alice Mandarich disputed that the letter helped anybody.

“To the best of my knowledge . . . there was no gold mine project up there. If there was no gold mine project up there, who was she benefiting?”

Told the letter took the same position as the Colorado Mining Association, an industry group, Mandarich repeated that letter benefited no particular project…

Mandarich struck back against the criticism, noting that Polis, an independently wealthy Internet entrepreneur, has invested in a mining mutual fund.

Our view: it’s possible this one will stick–Fitz-Gerald’s opponents, particularly Jared Polis, have been trying to plant her ties to oil and mining interests as a negative for months now, usually meeting with fierce counterattacks meant to portray Polis as a hypocrite for his investments in similar industries. We’re not sure merely pointing out Polis’ mutual funds will work this time, and Will Shafroth’s joining in the criticism is a significant development. His people may have discovered that it’s not a hopeless quest they’re on after all, and helping to damage Fitz-Gerald may improve Shafroth’s chances.

The best thing for Fitz-Gerald to do now would probably be to ease off on the defensive finger-pointing, and focus on her generally positive ratings from key environmental interest groups. Also, she may be helped by the fact that this is coming out only a week before the election, with early voting well underway. Conventional wisdom suggests those early voters should favor Fitz-Gerald, and this might be too late to affect their support.


CONTACT: Robert Becker, (303) 381-0121

Jared Polis calls for national ban on cyanide mining: “There is right and there is wrong. I strongly believe the use of cyanide is wrong and will fight for a law to ban its use.

BOULDER, CO – Responding to today’s news story “Fitz-Gerald draws fire on mining” in the Rocky Mountain News, 2nd congressional district Democratic candidate Jared Polis issued the following statement regarding Joan Fitz-Gerald’s 2004 letter [attached] to Summit County officials urging opposition to a ban on cyanide mining:

“When it comes to protecting our environment, there is right and there is wrong. I strongly believe the use of cyanide is wrong and will fight for a law to ban its use.

“Senator Fitz-Gerald’s support for cyanide mining is wrong. Claiming her letter ‘benefited no particular project’ does not change how incredibly wrong her position favoring the use of cyanide is.

“When local citizens – disparagingly referred to as ‘anti-mining activists’ in Senator Fitz-Gerald’s letter – turn out in mass to support a ban on cyanide mining, environmental leaders need to support them. It is disturbing that my opponent – a self-proclaimed environmental leader – would go to such great lengths to write a letter like this on behalf of the mining industry.

“Fitz-Gerald’s letter was a ‘special favor’ for her ‘special friends.’ The mining industry’s PACs gave her campaign contributions before this letter, and continue today. She wrote in her letter to Summit Count that ‘these same anti-mining activists have had little to no success in securing support in Colorado’ for a ban on cyanide mining. Now we know why.

“Cyanide mining is one of the most destructive, toxic and dangerous environmental challenges we face. I applaud Summit County’s successful ban on cyanide mining, encourage the courts to uphold the ban, and vow to fight for a nation-wide ban on cyanide mining in Congress.”

LINK TO STORY: http://www.rockymountainnews.c…

LETTER ATTACHED [See above – Pols]

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