Colorado voters have a true choice this year. Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Walker Stapleton have staked out distinctly different positions on most issues, although here and there they do agree on common principles. • Here’s a breakdown of where Polis and Stapleton stand on key issues, based on Colorado Politics reporting, their campaign issues webpages and their public statements. In many cases, the candidates have not detailed how they would pay for their proposals. • For more background on key issues in the election, go online to



Calls health care a right and supports universal care.

Would pursue partnerships with nearby states to boost buying power.

Wants more public and nonprofit options on the state’s Obamacare exchange for individual health coverage to bring down costs.

Would invest in mobile health care clinics in rural and distressed urban areas.

Would “demand” the federal government allow Colorado to import prescription drugs from Canada.

“Keeping up the fight for universal coverage will take tremendous advocacy and effort from our next governor … I will build upon Governor Hickenlooper’s work in advocating for comprehensive health care solutions at the regional and federal level and will fight for Medicare for All as the best solution to our rising health care costs.” — Polis position paper


Backs state-based federal block grants.

Has proposed dismantling Colorado’s Obamacare health exchange.

Wants to rein in Medicaid costs.

Calls for offering incentives for preventative and primary care to improve long-term health.

Favors greater flexibility in designing health coverage plans to make more affordable coverage available.

“A government-run, single-payer health care program will result in higher taxes and less choices. It will bankrupt Colorado and drive families and businesses out of our state. As governor, I will focus on improving quality and reducing the costs of health care in Colorado by working with a variety of groups and individuals to drive innovation, increase transparency, and improve the delivery of care to make health care more accessible.” — Campaign website



Would move the state toward generating its electricity using only renewable energy by 2040.

Favors increasing regulatory incentives for energy-efficient construction and lighting.

Would use “innovative financial mechanisms” to “assist communities where coal plants have been retired.”

“The way we plan to get our state to 100-percent renewable by 2040 … is a bottom-up approach using market mechanisms, like encouraging distributed wind and solar projects, removing regulatory barriers to siting wind projects on state lands and lots of other things I could go into in detail.” — Colorado Politics interview, March 6


Supports an all-of-the-above approach to energy, with an emphasis on oil and gas.

Says he’s “not for subsidizing alternative energy.”

Vows to work for “a stable business environment to ensure a low-cost energy supply that will attract and retain businesses.”

“Our state has become a pioneer in balancing responsible economic development with environmental stewardship, and I look to continue this trend in the Governor’s office. — Campaign website



Would focus on relieving traffic congestion across the state, improving rural roads and fixing potholes

Wants further development of rail and other mass transit and “multimodal” transportation options along the Front Range.

Says he does not “personally support or endorse” Proposition 110, which would raise the state sales tax by 0.62 cents to fund various state and local transportation needs.

“No matter where in Colorado you live, you deserve a reliable, affordable, accessible transportation system that works for you and your family, now and in the future.” — Campaign website


Thinks the Legislature must prioritize spending on roads and bridges over transit and other transportation needs.

Would use revenue from a tax on sports betting to fund transportation.

Supports Proposition 109, which calls for the Legislature to borrow $3.5 billion for high-priority road and bridge projects but not raise taxes.

“Building and maintaining roads is one of the main functions of the state. Despite the lip service paid over the years, it’s time to truly treat transportation as a priority. This starts with strong leadership from the governor’s office.” — Colorado Politics op-ed, June 7



Supports funding full-day preschool and kindergarten statewide.

Favors boosting teacher pay.

Wants to “redesign and rebuild” higher education to prepare students for today’s economy.

“High-quality, full-day kindergarten and preschool promotes school readiness, closes achievement gaps, and supports the healthy development of all children.” — Campaign website


Favors expanding school choice through charter schools.

Wants to cut spending on school administration and pay teachers more.

Supports a “sales tax holiday” for back-to-school shopping.

“In order to transform our system to one that prioritizes education, we must allow the money to follow the students, not the other way around.” — Campaign website



Supports allowing cities and counties to raise the minimum wage above the statewide level.

Says the state should do more to address rising income inequality, including profit-sharing plans and stock options.

Favors worker retraining programs for rural and coal communities.

“Coloradans deserve an economy that works for everyone, not just special interests and top executives.” — Campaign website


Wants to focus more attention on growing the economy in rural areas .

Calls for creating a “positive business environment that does not pick winners and losers.”

Promises to spare business from “agenda-driven, burdensome, job-killing regulations.”

“ Despite … seemingly optimistic [job] figures, many people across Colorado still struggle with underemployment, looking for more hours and income to try to make ends meet.” — Campaign website



Would ban the purchase of “bump stocks” that allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired rapidly.

Wants the state to research links between gun violence and public health.

Supports a “red flag” law that would allow police to take away guns temporarily from someone a judge has determined is “dangerous” to himself or herself or others.

“The fight for gun safety isn’t about politics. It’s about the lives of our kids and their friends. I’m the parent of a six-year-old and a three-year-old, and I won’t let the NRA — or the politicians they’ve bought — stand in the way of our children’s safety.” — Campaign website


Would “protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and fight back against efforts to limit our Second Amendment freedoms.”

Wants the state’s 2013 gun control laws repealed.

Supports letting teachers carry firearms.

“The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right, enshrined in the Second Amendment of our Constitution. It is deeply embedded in the American ideals of self-reliance and independence.” — Campaign website



Supports immigrant rights and opposes enlisting states and local governments to enforce federal immigration policy.

Says people in the country illegally who are arrested for crimes should be deported.

“We cannot simply write President Trump’s vile immigration policies into law.” — Statement from his congressional office, June 27


Supports President Donald Trump’s proposal to withhold tax dollars from so-called sanctuary cities.

Says he will “will work to end … the practice of local governments shielding illegal immigrants from the law.”

“Sanctuary cities put us all at risk. Denver’s policy of barring police from helping federal law enforcement deport criminals just doesn’t make sense.” — Campaign ad



Sought repeal of the Republicans’ federal tax cuts.

Says he will “take on tax loopholes for special interests so that they pay their fair share.”

“The Republican tax scheme grows the national debt by over $1.5 trillion, providing handouts to corporations and special interests while hitting middle class families with tax hikes. ... We can’t afford to bankrupt the nation, and Coloradans cannot afford another recession.” — Statement from his congressional office, Dec. 19


Was an early supporter of the Republican tax reform legislation.

Says he will “apply a strict cost-benefit analysis to any bill that crosses my desk.”

“As treasurer, I know Colorado families and small businesses will benefit from a tax plan that is simpler and our economy will thrive with a lower corporate rate. It will bring jobs and investment back to America and make us more competitive in a global economy.” — Colorado Politics interview, Dec. 14



Says he will seek more diverse funding for the Colorado Water Plan.

Said he would not support any new transmountain diversions of water from western Colorado to the Front Range unless under existing agreements.

Decries “ideological resistance” to the “scientific fact” of climate change, which threatens water supplies, agriculture and skiing.

“We need to think big, do even better by leveraging new technology and finding best practices to enhance conservation efforts.” — Colorado Water Congress speech, Aug. 23


Says the next four years are “critical for implementing the Colorado Water Plan.”

Favors new reservoirs and conservation.

Says the state should invest in agricultural technology and best practices to conserve water on farms.

“I believe we can close the supply-demand gap and protect Colorado’s water resources in a financially and environmentally responsible way.” — Campaign website

Compiled by Mark Harden, Joey Bunch and Ernest Luning

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