Polis takes CD 2 in heated Democratic primary race
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Democrats Jared Polis defeated Joan Fitz-Gerald in the tight race to replace U.S. Rep. Mark Udall in Congress, with challenger Will Shafroth a distant third in the Democratic primary election Tuesday.
Fitz-Gerald conceded the race about 10:30 p.m.
With barely more than a quarter of the precincts counted, Polis maintained a 43-39 point advantage over Fitz-Gerald, with Shafroth lagged behind with only 18 percent of the vote.
The high-profile, high-dollar race pitted Polis, an internet entrepreneur, against political brawler and former Colorado Senate President Fitz-Gerald and mild-mannered conservationist Shafroth.
Fitz-Gerald and Shafroth cried foul after Polis poured a record $5.3 million of his own money into the race, more than his two opponents combined.
Polis countered that his investment proved he wasn’t tied to special interests.
Shafroth, who ran on his record as an environmentalist, aired television ads portraying Fitz-Gerald and Polis as two children in a backyard brawl.
The former head of the Great Outdoors Colorado open space program argued Democrats should be fighting for what they believe in, not each other.
The 2nd District includes Broomfield, Clear Creek, Eagle, Gilpin, Grand and Summit counties, most of Boulder County, and parts of Jefferson, Weld and Adams counties.
Unaffiliated voters make up the largest voting bloc, but the 2nd CD leans Democratic, so the winner of Tuesday’s primary is considered the strong favorite in November.
“I thought this was a very important race,” said Vail resident Sally Jackle, 61, outside the polling place at Donovan Park.
“I think this race among the three candidates is going to probably determine who is our ultimate representative in November.”
Tim Stenovec, 24, who also cast his vote in Vail, said he wanted to show support for what he called passionate candidates.
He voted based on national issues, he said.
“Since they’re going to be in Washington, the war in Iraq is really important and the economy,” Stenovec said.
Joe Rosica of Avon said he voted because his participation counts.
“I think every election is important,” he said, declining to disclose his choice.
“There’s only one real contest going on here and that’s for representative for this district, and I think it’s important to be heard on this issue.”
Polis was still in college when he co-founded his first company, American Information Systems, an internet access and web hosting provider.
Growing up in the family’s Boulder-based greeting card and publishing business, Blue Mountain Arts, he succeeded his grandmother as sales manager in 1996, turning the company into an online greeting card website which he sold three years later.
In 1998, he launched a web company to sell flowers direct from growers to consumers that became one of the fastest-growing and most successful online start-ups before it was sold to Liberty Media Corporation.
He served on the Colorado Board of Education for six years, founding a pair of unique charter schools and spearheading classroom-reform efforts.
Polis is vying to be the first openly gay person to win election to Congress;
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., disclosed his sexual orientation after he won his seat.
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