Columnists, Featured, Governor Polis, Jon Caldara, Uncategorized

Caldara: Jared Polis’ presidential prospects

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

When the press gets hold of something confidential it’s rarely without purpose. Leaked stories are leaked for a reason.

After President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance, pressure is growing and will grow exponentially to convince him to step aside for a more winnable candidate. The decision is his and his alone, which is a pleasant way of saying the decision lies solely with First Lady Jill Biden. And Jill is not going easily.

So, imagine the surprise that a confidential insider poll was leaked to a small news outlet that shows, post-debate, Biden getting trounced. Done by the Democratic messaging firm Open Labs, the poll shows Trump now winning in most swing states, spelling doom for Biden.

The poll indicates Colorado is still pro-Biden but now only by a razor thin 1.9%, well within the poll’s margin of error.

If this is accurate, Colorado becomes a potential swing state. The state that trounced Trump by 14 percentage points four years ago is now in play.

This is all part of a coordinated escalation to encourage Jill, I mean Joe, to step aside. With every embarrassing senior moment, the small chorus of Democrats demanding he drop out will grow to a passionately loud orchestra.

So, who would replace Biden? According to this leaked poll, the Democrats most likely to beat Trump would be (in order) U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, then Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, followed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris, although none are slam-dunk wins.

Oddly missing from this poll and from all the talk of potential replacements is our own, and very popular, Gov. Jared Polis.

A year ago Jared’s name as a presidential candidate was in article after article and talked about on national shows. A Washington Post analysis even had him in third place on the Top 10 potential Democratic nominees, just behind Harris and Buttigieg.

Why has the shine worn off? Polis’ carefully quaffed PR image of a new type of business-friendly, libertarian-leaning Democrat was making him a leading contender. With help from his family friend and economist Art Laffer, he bought himself positive press, from outlets like Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Reason Magazine and even George Will.

So, what changed? Nothing really. It’s just that secrets can’t be kept forever.

The national press slowly came to realize that of all the praise for this “libertarian” governor, none came from Colorado. Polis’ actions spoke louder than words.

Tax increase after fee increase after regulatory increase after energy price increase after minimum wage increase after gun-control increase after killing the oil and gas industry after banning plastic shopping bags — well, Jared’s actions beat out any out-of-state spin machine.

So here we are with the likelihood of Biden dropping out growing by the minute and replacements are starting to jockey for position, sans Polis, it seems.

As usual, money is a big issue. The Biden-Harris campaign has raised more than $265 million. Should Biden drop out, Harris could still use that money, since it was raised for the ticket that includes her. Other candidates would have to be spectacular at raising money quickly, Newsom might be good at this, or they have to bring their own money to the table like Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who’s worth nearly $4 billion.

If only there were another ultra-rich candidate who could self-fund (rubbing my chin as I think)? Maybe a Western-state guy wealthy enough to buy himself the governorship, twice. Of course, it would be helpful if that guy could also check a few of the identity politics boxes now mandated by the left. Maybe the first gay and first Jewish president?

Polis is too smart to run for president this year. He’s aiming for a 2028 run, though he won’t publicly say so.

But if, in fact, Colorado turns out to be a swing state, choosing Polis as a vice-presidential running mate could be mutually beneficial.

It would guarantee electoral votes from Colorado and check those identity politics boxes.

It would be even better for Polis himself. If his ticket won, he’d be a heartbeat away from the White House.

If they lose, he gets nationwide notoriety and becomes a household name and perhaps the standard bearer for a 2028 run.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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