Republican Candidate Kevin Lundberg (left); Democratic Congressman Jared Polis (right) [Photos: Colorado Senate GOP; Polis-US Congress]
This story was produced and reported by Grace Hood, KUNC.
Our look at the state’s Congressional races continues today as part of CPR’s “Colorado Votes.” Democrat Jared Polis’s Second District was once a liberal stronghold, but redistricting shifted the boundaries to include more conservative parts of Jefferson County and all of Larimer County. As KUNC’s Grace Hood reports, that’s part of what Republican challenger Kevin Lundberg is counting on.
Here is a transcript of Grace’s report:
Reporter Grace Hood: Kevin Lundberg is running his campaign on a shoestring budget compared to incumbent Jared Polis. In terms of cash on hand, he’s at an almost 25-1 disadvantage compared to Polis, who has about $347,000, according to the most recent figures. But that’s not stopping Lundberg from getting out his message.
Kevin Lundberg: How are you ladies doing? Good to see you.
Reporter: As he works the crowd at a recent Larimer County GOP picnic, the state senator from Berthoud advocates for his “less is more” philosophy.
Lundberg: I don’t vote for taxes, I don’t vote for bigger government programs, I try to find those areas of efficiencies and those areas of freedom.
Reporter: Freedom is a word that looms large in Lundberg mailers and stump speeches. He says it comes from reducing bureaucratic red tape and the federal deficit. On a policy level, it means repealing President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. While Lundberg supports Colorado’s alternative energy industry, he’s against renewing the Wind Energy Tax Credit set to expire at the end of the year.
Lundberg: It’s a house of cards because as soon as those subsidies and those mandates go away that industry will go away.
Jared Polis: I think that making sure that they can compete on a level playing field with oil and gas is critical.
Reporter: Incumbent Jared Polis says the tax credit provides valuable incentives to the burgeoning industry, which has seen recent cuts. The Second District now houses Vestas’ Windsor-based blade factory, which employs almost half of the company’s 1,600 Colorado employees. But extending the credit has been a tough sell.
Polis: This Congress it’s a pretty low bar. Most of the time I was busy fighting against Tea Party efforts, whether it was abolish funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, get rid of Wall Street regulatory reform…
Reporter: Washington fatigue is a very real problem for Sally Hutchinson, who’s a registered Republican in Larimer County. She’s walking her granddaughter in a stroller in downtown Fort Collins.
Sally Hutchinson: You and I live in households where we have to purchase based on what we have. And that’s not what the government’s doing.
Reporter: Larimer County, which now comprises the largest percentage of the district’s electorate, has an unemployment rate that’s about 2 points less than the state’s 8.2 percent. And keeping it that way is important for Democrat Mikheil Moucharrafie.
Mikheil Moucharrafie: I’d like to see focus on middle class and getting away from tax cuts to the wealthy.
Reporter: Democrats have a slight advantage in this newly drawn district, outnumbering registered Republicans by about 24,000 voters. But independents, like Colorado State University Freshman Carmen Matthews, make up the largest chunk of the electorate.
Carmen Matthews: I feel like the women’s issues are really important to me. So I don’t know, I guess I’m going to research more.
Reporter: On social issues, Jared Polis supports abortion rights, while Kevin Lundberg is opposed. When it comes to the economy and jobs, Polis says that long term fiscal stability is important, as is eliminating loopholes that encourage jobs going overseas.
Polis: I think through our tax code now we actually make America less competitive, and we need to have a tax code both corporate and individual, that makes America more competitive.
Reporter: Shorter on specifics, Lundberg says he plans to reign in Washington spending and borrowing. When it comes to overregulation, he says the Environmental Protection Agency could benefit from changes.
Lundberg: It seems that mission creep has gotten in the process.
Reporter: Two other candidates are seeking to represent the Second Congressional District. Randy Luallin is the Libertarian candidate. Susan Hall is representing the Green Party.