If you’re counting endorsements from the state’s largest newspapers, Democrat Jared Polis so far has a 4-3 edge on Republican Walker Stapleton.
Taken as a whole, the candidates were deemed bold, if not unrealistic thinkers. Polis generally got good marks from editorial boards for big ideas on providing universal health care and free all-day preschool, but lost points on his vague talk about how to pay for those government goodies.
Some editorialists didn’t like Stapleton’s brash tone toward his opponent, or his embrace of hard-right Republican positions.
The newspapers that picked Stapleton seemed to like the fact that he’s not Polis; his experience and the setting of attainable goals as governor were highlighted.
The ruling is still out from a number of state newspapers that had not yet made their endorsements or posted them online as of Thursday morning, including the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Longmont Times-Call, the Steamboat Pilot and the Aspen Times.
Here’s what the papers had to say on the governor’s race:
The Gazette in Colorado SpringsEndorsed StapletonThe Pikes Peak region’s paper of record called Stapleton “a man with a proven, indisputable record of good results.”
The editorial board found that his record as state treasurer has helped middle-class families and the working poor.
“Economically, Colorado consistently outperforms most other states,” according to The Gazette’s editorial board. “Stapleton’s stewardship of the treasury and defense of private-sector assets gets much of the credit.”
The paper lists his examples of “bold leadership,” fighting tax increases, calling out what he saw as misspending by the state, and raising the alarms that ultimately led to a fix in the state pension plan.
Of Polis, the editorial opined, “We could not make peace with his left-wing agenda, which most Colorado Democrats and independents would consider extreme if they scrutinized it.
“At the core of the Polis platform is socialized health care in the form of ‘Medicare-for-all.’ It is at least as bad as the socialized medicine proposal voters stomped like a cigarette butt in 2016.”
The Durango HeraldEndorsed StapletonThe southwest Colorado paper wasn’t totally sold on or totally against either candidate, but Stapleton has been right on state finances before and Polis talks a big game, deemed the Herald editorial.
“Stapleton also said that he could not think of anything that government could do better than the private sector,” the editorial said. “We are skeptical that this is the mindset of someone running for the state’s top job, but at the same time, he has been right to argue, as state treasurer, that the Public Employees Retirement Association [the state’s pension plan] is still setting its rate of market return unrealistically high.”
The Herald also was concerned about Polis spending so much of his personal fortune, eclipsing his competitors many times over, to win the office.
“He has spent more than $18 million of his own money to date in the general election, setting another record for big money in state politics,” the paper lamented. “But we would like to think our votes are not for sale – and neither is Colorado.”
The Coloradoan of Fort CollinsEndorsed PolisThe editorial board from the northern Front Range newspaper liked the Democrat’s big ideas and thought he might just accomplish them.
“We believe he has a solid shot at advancing his goals to the benefit of state residents because of his willingness to work with others, including Republicans in the state legislature, for the sake of the common good,” stated the Coloradoan.
“Polis has plans for how he would achieve some goals, such as establishing free full-day kindergarten across the state and finding ways to save Coloradans money on health care, early in his administration.”
Stapleton understands finances, the paper said, but “we don’t buy into his beliefs that dismantling Medicaid expansion and eliminating regulatory structures on business will advance the state.”
The Denver PostPolisThe state’s largest newspaper pitched Polis to its readers a governor who is “thoughtful, innovative and has proved his mettle as a leader both in the business world and as a congressman for the past decade.”
The Post lauded his support for education; Polis started his political career as a member of the State Board of Education.
“He carried his education knowledge with him to Congress where he not only worked on fixing the No Child Left Behind Act, but was a member of the conference committee that negotiated the final bi-partisan Every Student Succeeds Act eventually signed by President Barack Obama,” stated the Post.
The Boulder Daily CameraEndorsed PolisPolis’ hometown paper wagged its ink-stained fingers at both candidates before settling on its native son.
“Stapleton, the Colorado treasurer, so far has mounted a campaign that’s light on substance but heavy on attacks against Polis, who represents Colorado’s 2nd District in Congress, and it is regrettable that the GOP failed to elevate a better candidate,” the paper zinged. “Democrat Polis has his flaws – his manner too often comes off as superior, arrogant or self-satisfied – but Stapleton is unworthy of the top leadership role in a modern, growing, diverse, purple state like Colorado.”
The Daily Camera editorial pounded on Stapleton’s negative tone and embrace of President Trump, and it warmed to Polis’ aspirational goals.
“Some of Polis’ proposed initiatives will cost money, and opponents are justified in challenging him to explain where those funds will come from,” the Boulder paper stated. “But the state is in need of strong political leadership on transportation, education, energy development and other issues, and, between the two candidates, Polis is clearly better prepared to assume that responsibility.”
The Pueblo ChieftainStapletonThe Chieftain called the choice stark between two candidates who are polar opposites in their policies.
“In a battleground state that’s closely divided between Republicans and Democrats, it would have been nice to see candidates with more moderate positions on many key issues,” the editorial states. “However, the voters spoke during the primaries, and these are our two major party choices.”
The paper knocked Polis for doing a poor job of explaining how he’ll pay for his promise to provide universal health care.
“It’s not that Polis doesn’t have some good ideas, like decentralizing state government and relocating the offices of some departments to other communities, including Pueblo,” the paper said. “(We hope that happens, regardless of who wins the election.) And it seems like he supports, at least in concept, reclassifying some staff positions at [the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo] as a way to reduce the staffing shortage there. But it’s some of his more grandiose ideas that are at the centerpiece of his agenda that give us pause.”
The paper countered, “By contrast, Stapleton makes fewer promises, but the ones he makes seems more attainable.”
The Sentinel of AuroraPolisThe east-metro news outlet daily tore down Stapleton before it built up Polis in sharply worded terms.
“He launched his campaign needlessly claiming to be a ‘fourth-generation Coloradan,’” the Sentinel said of Stapleton. “He’s no such thing. Stapleton was born and raised in Connecticut, attended schools there and went on to Ivy League colleges. He sometimes visited family in Colorado for vacations.
“There was no reason for him to fabricate his biography. There is no shortage of proud and successful political leaders who moved to Colorado, including former governors Dick Lamm and Bill Owens.”
The newspaper was effusive for Polis.
“In Congress, Polis, an inventive and successful businessman, has a proven track record of not just creating and supporting pragmatic approaches to myriad problems plaguing Colorado,” it wrote. “As former chairman of the state’s Board of Education, Polis developed a reputation for protecting local control of schools while at the same time helping all schools raise the bar on student performance.