Feb 17, 2022 - Politics

Democratic aid packages provide Gov. Jared Polis with platform to run on

Gov. Jared Polis speaks to a Spanish-language TV station at a campaign kickoff event Wednesday in Aurora. Photo: John Frank/Axios
Gov. Jared Polis speaks to a Spanish-language TV station at a campaign kickoff event Wednesday in Aurora. Photo: John Frank/Axios

Speaking from a stage at an Aurora community center Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis touted his administration's work as part of a 22-stop re-election kick-off tour.

Details: Below him, people waited to pick up meals from the center’s food bank in a line that extended outside into the cold.

Why it matters: The scene at the Village Exchange Center showcased the challenges facing Colorado in these uncertain economic times — as well as the troubles the Democratic Party can expect in persuading voters in November.

Yes, but: It also foreshadowed how the governor plans to defy the national political winds that favor Republicans.

  • Each of the assistance programs offered at the center, all directed toward communities of color, are part of Democratic federal and state relief packages, center organizers told us.
  • In effect, Polis didn't need to answer questions about what he is doing to help Colorado's most vulnerable in their personal recoveries — it was all right in front of him.

Between the lines: The direct aid and hyper-local focus will allow Polis, a former congressman, to separate himself from President Biden and the rest of Washington.

  • In an interview with Axios Denver, Polis said he agrees "with a lot of what President Biden does," but not everything.
  • He wants to see the federal government lower household costs, and endorsed a Senate bill to suspend the 18-cent gas tax for one year.

What he's saying: "We're going to be talking about what we've done to move Colorado forward," Polis told John after the event, "and just as importantly the vision for the next four years — the vision for making Colorado a place where people can afford to thrive."

Zoom in: José Gomez, a youth pastor, runs the vaccine clinic at the site. He said government benefits are tangible for people in the community.

  • "We let the people know that we're part of the governor's office [program] and he's the one that's done a lot of good work in bringing clinics here to our communities."

The other side: Back at the state Capitol, lawmakers debated an additional spending package Polis requested, including more money to address the pandemic.

  • Republicans lamented the ballooning spending and the growth in government.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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