Opponents face uphill battle against Polis | SummitDaily.com

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Opponents face uphill battle against Polis

It doesn’t have the countless commercials or high-profile marketing from national parties. In fact, the Democrat and Republican parties haven’t contributed campaign funds to the Congessional Disctrict 2 candidates at all.

For Republican Scott Starin, Green Party nominee J.A. Calhoun and Unity Party candidate William Robert Hammons, though, that doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard to win the District 2 seat ” even if Democrat Jared Polis is considered a shoe-in.

All three say they have been talking with voters at house parties, various festivals and door-to-door.

“We are doing a very active grassroots campaign,” Starin said of his own campaign. “Over these next few weeks, we will be hitting the streets hard.”

The race will fill the vacancy left when U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, declared he would run for a seat in the Senate.

The district has had a Democratic representative since 1975, and in the last election Udall, garnered more 68 percent of the votes.

“Obviously, there is a big challenge … in that district,” said Randy Hildreth, communications director for the Colorado Republicans. “At the same time, if you get the right Republican in the right year, a Republican could win. We are always hopelessly optimistic about it … You never know, we could always pull off an upset in that district.”

Making the battle even more challenging for Starin is the difference in campaign finances.

According to finance reports filed on July 23, Polis had $1,257,421 in cash on hand and $6,447,840 in receipts. Starin had $4,848 cash on hand and $16,707 in receipts.

Starin actually has raised less than Hammons, who has $4,728 cash on hand and $17,193 in receipts.

“I don’t have his funds to do a total media blitz with television commercials and everything,” Starin said in reference to Polis. “I have to do it the old-fashioned way.”

Starin continues to work full time as an electronics system engineer for Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., even while campaigning. But he said he plans to take as many vacation days as possible in these next few weeks leading up to the election.

He feels the main issue in the election is the economy and food and gas prices.

Starin wants to expand drilling for gas and domestic energy production, while refining environmentally-friendly energy technologies.

“Colorado can be the epicenter of this economic dome … (by taking the) lead on how to use these technologies in an environmentally-compatible way,” Starin said. “This will stimulate the economy and bring lots of good high-paying jobs in Colorado and that will relieve the pressure on the economy.”

Polis, a self-made millionaire from a series of Internet-based companies, said his background in business gives him insight in policies that can help turn the economy around. He also served six years on the Colorado Board of Education.

He won the Democratic nomination in a hotly contested primary against former state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and conservationist Will Shafroth.

His attention is now focused on the general election, and he argues the major issue is the economy followed by health care, high energy prices and education.

“My ideas on turning the economy around seem to be resonating well with voters,” Polis said. “With energy, I talk about a need to create energy and end our reliance on oil and reduce carbon emissions.”

Even with the odds in his favor, Polis is to not taking things for granted.

“You know, this district has a lot of independent voters and Republican voters,” he said. “I’m seeking to represent all the voters, not just Democrats … I look to my values as being with the mainstream values of the people in my district of all parties.”

Starin thinks Polis already feels he has won, though. Starin mentions that he hasn’t seen Polis very often at events he’s attended, and he hopes this will land him an upset victory.

“(He is) totally missing in action. (Voters) don’t hear from Jared Polis much,” Starin said. “He’s taking this for granted, and I think this will backfire on him. He’s taking voters for granted.”

The third candidate on the ticket, Hammons, has a background in writing and publishing. Hammons worked for Henry Holt and Co. and Newsweek before moving to Boulder and working full-time on his own website.

Hammons started Unity Runners in 2003, which eventually developed into the Unity Party of America.

According to its website, the party is not right or left, but for moving forward. Some stances of the party include a balanced-budget amendment, a tax deduction for health-care costs for citizens who elect to pay for their own health care, and an elimination on taxes for the first $30,000 of income and a flat 30-percent tax on additional earnings.

Hammons, like his rivals, considers the economy the critical issue of this election.

“The U.S. government can set a tone for a financially sober America by balancing its own budget,” Hammons said. “The people have more confidence in the country if it has a balanced budget, and the U.S. government could calm the fears about wall street if it didn’t have 10 trillion dollars in deficit as it is.”

Although hopeful, Hammons also understands the challenges facing a third-party candidate and hopes to gain attention Unity Party through his campaign.

“This goes beyond Bill Hammons and the 2008 election … ,” he said. “The Unity Party was just a website gathering people from across the country, and now … in very real terms, it’s a political party.”

The final person on the ticket is the Green Party’s Calhoun. Calhoun does not have a website nor filed any campaign-finance report before July 23.

The Green Party is known for its platforms on looking at problems through an ecological approach. The party’s website says that social and environmental issues cannot be solved in isolation of each other.

Jonathan Batuello can be reached at (970) 668-4653 or jbatuello@summitdaily.com.