In an interview with Complete Colorado Monday, August 6, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays gave his thoughts on the Jared Polis campaign for governor and his concerns about what Hays calls a “radical agenda” put forward by Polis.
“There are people within his own party who feel he’s unlikable and too radical not only for their political tastes but also for the state we find ourselves in in Colorado,” said Hays. “I just get the sense that there’s a certain arrogance about the Jared Polis campaign and really about the Congressman himself.”
“We’ve got a pretty robust economy. It’s not like we don’t have issues to be solved like water, transportation, education, things like that. But those issues are not going to be solved by a radical economic agenda that would drive out one of the largest producing segments of our economy, the oil and gas industry,” he said.
The most pressing concern Hays expressed revolves around Polis’ agenda to shift Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy and shutting down fossil fuel power plants and replacing them with thousands of wind turbines and solar panels.
While Polis has not said he supports it, the Colorado Democratic Party supports Initiative 97, which proposes a minimum 2,500-foot setback from homes, schools, other occupied structures and “areas designated for additional protection.” Supporters of the initiative submitted 171,000 petition signatures Monday, which will likely give it a spot on the ballot.
“The proposals that are being put out for setbacks would exclude upwards of 85 percent of new drilling in the state of Colorado — 54 percent, even if you include public lands,” said Hays. “It’s talking about taking an almost immeasurably valuable resource away from the people of Colorado.”
Asked about the Fifth Amendment implications of taking the rights of mineral owners to extract their property if the courts should rule that just compensation is owed, Hays said. “I don’t know what those numbers are, but it could be staggering.”
“It’s taking away the right for people to use their own property, and that’s a basic, fundamental purpose of government, to defend your property rights, not to assault them as he wants to do,” said Hays.
When Boulder County proposed to ban drilling last year, estimates of $8 billion in potential public liability were bandied about in the media. Boulder County quickly backed off that plan.
Hays says he is deeply concerned about the constitutional principles Initiative 97 affects, but he is more concerned about the human impacts of decimating Colorado’s energy companies and all of the supporting economies the industry keeps alive.
“It’s not just the severance fees from the extraction of the resources, it’s all those very highly paid people who are going to be forced to leave, and their spouses and their jobs, and their children who are going to be removed from schools,” he said.
“You judge a man by his actions and the words that he says. His actions, I believe, show a disrespect for working men and women because of the kinds of jobs that he’s trying to drive out of Colorado,” he said. “Not only the scientists and engineers, but the folks who are getting their knuckles bloody out there working on the rigs.”
Hays asked where the money for education and social programs will come from when the Polis agenda devastates communities.
“You can quantify this impact and say that it’s $20 billion and a quarter-million jobs, and you can quantify the impact of the loss of revenue to your schools, your businesses, to your tax base,” Hays said. “But what people aren’t talking about enough is the social impact of uprooting families from communities where they’ve chosen to live. It’s taking kids away from their relationships and their schools.”
The loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenues, Hays says, will cause property values to quickly decline, and with that decline comes a loss of equity in people’s homes.
“When you consider that people have the bulk of their investments and their retirement in their homes, you’re talking about personal bankruptcies, you’re talking about devastation to local economies, you’re talking about wrecking school systems because of the loss of property values,” Hays said.
“If his policies are enacted, you might not be able to sell a house in Weld County for 10 years,” he said. “People are relying on those communities that thrive off of the oil and gas industry.”
Hays doesn’t believe Polis understands Coloradans and is ignoring their historic distaste for oppressive state government.
“Colorado has a real strong small ‘l’ libertarian streak, and when you set up a government that is predatory like Polis wants to do, that is denying people the opportunity to use their property. He’s going against the fundamental basis of our government, which is to defend your rights to life, liberty and property,” said Hays.
Polis is out of touch with the economic interests of Coloradoans, says Hays.
“He’s chasing this pipe dream for what? So Colorado can reduce its impact to the worldwide carbon load? That’s absurd. That’s absolutely absurd.”
Of Polis’ self-funding of his campaign, Hays scoffs at the idea Coloradans will allow one person to buy the governor’s office.
“When you’ve got hard working Coloradans who are struggling to make ends meet, I don’t care what ideology or what partisanship you tend to reside with, you are kind of reluctant to give your $10 to a guy who has half a billion hanging around,” he said.
“He’s spending so much of his own money and he’s just digging in the seat cushions for change right now. I don’t think he’s hardly opened up his wallet. He’s just cast the dice. He’s going to pay for his own thing, he doesn’t need the little people to let him get elected,” Hays continued. “The people of Colorado are too smart, they are too independent minded, and they are really too pragmatic to let somebody that radical drive an agenda that is going to absolutely wreck this state’s economy.”
Hays says Republicans are fighting hard to defeat Polis at the November election.
“We’re out there working the ground game, we’re doing our best to get Walker Stapleton’s message and all of our candidate’s messages out because I refuse to accept any kind of inevitability that money is going to buy this election.”