Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis took to Pueblo over the weekend for a meet and greet with residents that more than once reminded the Boulder congressman and candidate that Pueblo often gets overlooked and left behind the rest of the state.
"Folks from this area feel like a second Colorado. And we don't always feel as paid attention to by folks in the Denver area. So I love that you announced here," said Theresa Trujillo, a community adviser who is active in local politics. "Please continue to remember to keep in mind this part of Colorado."
The majority of the hour-long question and answer session on Saturday focused heavily on the economic status of Pueblo and how the city has failed to keep up with the growing economies of the Denver metro area.
Polis' campaign has been centered on a Colorado economy that "works for everybody" - which he echoed to the 20-or-so attendees of the meet and greet hosted at a local pizza parlor located in the shadow of the Colorado Fuel & Iron, the once vast steel mill and economic hub.
"We need to talk about the future of Pueblo and where Pueblo can prosper in a 21st-century economy," Polis said. "This is where Trump has lied to people including Pueblo residents. His basic argument is that the future of Pueblo can be the past of Pueblo . And I'm here to tell you what you all know to be the truth: the future of Pueblo is bright, but it's not the same as the past of Pueblo."
Despite losing Colorado, Trump saw victory in the Steel City winning a small majority of voters in Pueblo on the promise of strengthening American steel and boosting the manufacturing economy.
"We need to build a sustainable, diverse future for the vibrant community of Pueblo to thrive and prosper, and that'll be a different solution than selling that false promise that it's going to be the exact same as it was 50 years ago," Polis said.
Along with others, Pueblo City Council President Steve Nawrocki said that Pueblo hasn't even gone blue when it came to Congress. U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton beat Democratic contender Gail Schwartz in November.
"I'm thinking that the statewide Democratic party needs to figure out Pueblo," Nawrocki said. "The Democratic Party historically supported blue collar workers - not the Republicans. Somehow we lost that. Somehow or another the Democratic Party needs to recapture the working people."
Nawrocki's concerns about the state party is a national question, Polis said.
"It's a matter of having the right answers," Polis added. "I think what Donald Trump tapped into in Pueblo was that in many ways he had the wrong answers to the right questions."
Polis added that Hillary Clinton didn't "do well enough" in promising a future instead of focusing on the past.
The candidate stuck to his platform in promising a brighter economic future for southern Colorado, mostly referring to his plans to encourage Colorado companies to share profit with their employees.
When asked if he was worried about over-promising to the voters of Pueblo, Polis told Colorado Politics that was Trump's way of doing things.
"It's about speaking the truth," he said. "And having a compelling vision for the future." Body-justified