Democratic voters optimistic for “blue wave” | PostIndependent.com

Democratic voters optimistic for “blue wave”

For some local Democrats, defying President Donald Trump is as important as electing progressive candidates to state offices.

"I got tired of waking up in the morning and going, 'I can't believe Trump is president," Jerome Dayton said of why he's leaning toward Democratic candidates.

"I decided to do something about it and became active in the Democratic Party last fall. I'm pretty optimistic we're going to get a good turnout this year," Dayton said.

Democratic candidate for governor and current U.S. Rep. Jared Polis stopped at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs Friday, joined by running mate Dianne Primavera and fellow Democratic candidates Phil Weiser, running for Attorney General against Republican George Brauchler, and Jena Griswold, the nominee for secretary of state against incumbent Republican Wayne Williams.

Leslie Robinson, a volunteer for Polis's Rifle campaign office, said her message to the rest of the county would be: "The Democrats are against hate."

Robinson pointed to the series of apparent pipe bombs that were mailed to current and former Democratic politicians in the past several days, and said it was a fear tactic meant to frighten voters from the polls.

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"I want to assure people that, to vote for a Democrat is to vote for peace," Robinson said.

"With the political climate right now, I think we need to vote on the peaceful side, on the humanitarian side, and on the caring side," Glenwood Springs resident Michele Diamond said. "I'm hoping that, if you're an independent or you're leaning, you'll see the damage that has been done since 2016."

Though Polis is ahead of Republican candidate Walker Stapleton in the polls, it's unclear whether Garfield County would help him to the governor's mansion. The county is not as solidly red as it was 20 years ago, but in the last presidential election Trump received 1,861 more votes than Hillary Clinton in Garfield County.

A YouGov poll from Oct. 22 shows Polis leading by 12 points in the race, and a Magellan Strategies poll Oct. 17 shows him ahead by 7.

Polis identified health care, and particularly the high price of insurance in Western Colorado, as a critical issue. He also mentioned education and his hope to have free preschool and kindergarten for every child, and called Stapleton a "Donald Trump yes-man" who would imperil public lands.

Current Gov. John Hickenlooper was with the so-called "Colorado For All" campaign tour earlier today. The tour started in Summit Friday, made stops in Silverthorne and Eagle and, after the Glenwood Springs stop, planned to end the day in Grand Junction.

Central to Polis's health care platform is his intent to move the state toward a single-payer model with or without the federal government.

That gives even some Democratic voters pause.

"I'm a little concerned about doing single payer as a state," Dayton said. He'd rather see a Democratic state executive work with other governors and lobby the U.S. Congress to push single-payer health care nationally.

"Ultimately, the solution is going to come from the federal government," Dayton said.

Diana Kaufman, a precinct chair for the Democratic Party in Glenwood Springs, is also skeptical about Colorado moving on its own to single payer, but said it all comes down to how the law is written.

"I have some concerns about it, but we have to definitely do something and look into it," Kaufman said. "If the legislation is done well, I think that's the way to go."

Supporters see Polis as the right choice even if the details are not clear. Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, who held the seat for more than a decade in the late 1980s and '90s, joined Polis on the trail.

"He's not going to be a safe governor … Jared is going to be a problem solver," Romer said.

"It's still a world in motion when it comes to health care, but I believe that Polis is the best leader to guide us in this health care issue in Colorado" Robinson said.

"I don't exactly know how a single payer would work, but I think he'll find a way to intelligently make some sort of a single payer work," Diamond of Glenwood said. "I trust him to do the right thing and not make it cost even more than it already does."

The vast majority of the crowd watching Polis raised their hands when asked if they had mailed in their ballots. But voter outreach will be ongoing through Election Day, Nov. 6, and in Colorado it's possible to register to vote the day of the election.

Mykaela Jones, a first-time voter, believes Polis represents everything that needs to be happening right now. A candidate for an associate's degree at Colorado Mountain College, Jones believes a "huge amount of the Democratic votes will be given by young people in Garfield County."

But, in general, Jones believes more young people need to start caring about politics.

tphippen@postindependent.com