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Party Chairs In Boulder And Larimer County Weigh In On The Governor's Race

Courtesy of Walker Stapleton for Governor, Polis for Colorado

The 2018 election is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Among the local and statewide ballot questions, Colorado voters will also choose a new governor. With early voting now underway, KUNC's Brian Larson asked Boulder County Democratic Party chair Ellen Burnes and Larimer County Republican Party chair Bob Morain for their perspectives on the race.

Interview Highlights

On why Republican candidate Walker Stapleton is polling behind Democrat Jared Polis:

Bob Morain, Larimer County Republican Party chair: I think he's done a good job to his base as he goes to the various counties and talks to activists and so on. I think he's done less in the public debates and interviews which all the voters see. I think there he has not really shown what he wants to do as well, so I think that's why he's lagging a little bit in the polls.

Is this Jared Polis's race to lose?

Ellen Burnes, Boulder County Democratic Party chair: We've talked about this in the polling, where we work as a party is: We work hard to the end. We know that the polls don't close until 7 p.m. on the 6th. I don't think anyone's going to count to win until then.

On the role of unaffiliated voters in Boulder and Larimer counties deciding the election for governor:

Burnes: In 2016, of our 77,000 active unaffiliated voters, about 46,000 voted Democrat. So, that's our focus in Boulder County, is that outreach and that level of success.

Morain: In Larimer County we have roughly 65,000 Republicans and 62,000 Democrats, I believe, but we have 96,000 unaffiliated registered voters. Nobody's going to win if you don't you'll pull the unaffiliated voters in.

On the inclusion of so much money from the candidates:

Morain: I think, generally, voters are getting tired of so much money in races. Every year we see new records set. It was a surprise that Obama and Romney -- billion-dollar campaigns each and so forth, and now we're finding $20, $30 million-dollar governor races. I think voters are getting tired of seeing that much money in races.

The place where it really hurts is the outside money that comes in that nobody knows where it's coming from -- the "dark money" so to speak. You get these flyers in your mailbox or emails that are coming in or ads on the radio or TV, and it doesn't say Jared Polis or Walker Stapleton. It says some benign sounding campaign committee and people don't know who's really funding that, and so much of it is out of state money. So much of it is a very, very special interest.

People are becoming aware of that, and so I think people are turning off ads and they're pulling the mail out of the mailbox and if it looks political they're just dropping it because they just know people with money are just going to be sending stuff and it may not really resonate with their own point of view.

Burnes: I haven't taken the time, as it seems like many have, to look at the financial practice -- the personal financial practices -- of each candidate. I appreciate how seriously Jared is taking this race, and what it means to have a Democratic governor is imperative -- especially a Democratic governor, House and Senate, if we want to go there. I appreciate his leadership in setting that as a standard.

I think Bob's point on outside money is important and money we don't know. More importantly is the transparency of the money and that we understand the sources of it.

And then as far as communications go, I think that the lack of control that, for example, Stapleton has shown in some of his communications, that some media outlets have deemed not even air worthy because of the facts, is unfortunate.

On what each candidate must do to win on Election Day:

Burnes: Get out the vote and really encourage the whole ballot so that when Jared becomes governor he has the full support of a Democratic executive staff.

Morain: I wish both candidates would really come forward and say what their policies (are and) how it would really impact the state economically. If you're Rep. Polis and you want to have universal health care for all, or you want to have green energy, or whatever you're proposing -- how will you pay for it?

Similarly, I think Walker Stapleton really needs to point out again, economically, what the various positions that he has (and) how it would impact us. He's talked about the trouble with PERA, what will we do to fix it, and why can we not afford to drive oil and gas out of the state. If we believe in renewable energy sources, how are we going to move that direction and what will we pay for it? Walker said he's all-of-the-above energy, let's say how we're going to do that.

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