Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2008, 3rd term.

Born: May 12, 1975, Boulder

Home: Boulder

Education: Princeton U., B.A. 1996.

Professional Career: Entrepreneur, 1996-2008.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Jewish

Family: partner (Marlon Reis) , 1 children

Jared Polis, a Democrat first elected in 2008, is the first openly gay man elected to Congress, and he takes an avid interest in the cause of gay and lesbian rights. But the multimillionaire entrepreneur also focuses on health care, education, and technology, and he is becoming an important fundraiser for his party.

Polis was born in Boulder, but grew up in San Diego, returning to Colorado with his family during the summers. His mother, a poet, and his father, an artist, were both politically active during the anti-war movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Polis and his younger brother and sister frequently accompanied their parents to demonstrations and rallies. Their activism spurred Polis’ interest in politics and liberal ideas. He graduated from high school in three years, and headed off to Princeton University to study political science. Also fascinated by technology and business, Polis and two friends banded together in their sophomore year to launch a start-up called American Information Systems, an Internet access provider. Soon afterward, he founded bluemountainarts.com, an electronic greeting card site that at its height was the eighth most popular site on the Internet. His next venture was Proflowers.com, a service enabling customers to order fresh flowers directly from growers. All three were successful, and Polis sold them for profits of upwards of $300 million. (He still distributes business cards in which he calls himself a “retired florist.”)

Financial security from his business ventures allowed Polis to focus on his other passions. “I was always interested in public service. Education is an issue I feel very passionately about, providing an opportunity to all Americans,” he said. In 2000, he was elected to the ColoradoState Board of Education, serving for six years and as chairman for one year. During his tenure, Polis says he was most proud of his advancement of school choice through the establishment of charter schools and his work improving accountability standards for schools. In part with his own money, he founded two innovative charter schools in Colorado, which were geared toward helping new immigrants assimilate. One of the schools, the New America School, targeted 16-to- 21-year-old immigrants with flexible day or evening programs, day-care reimbursement and teachers trained to help students learn English. “We really needed a school to cater to their unique needs,” Polis said. At the same time, he partnered with three other Colorado multimillionaires—who were dubbed the “Gang of Four” in newspapers—and built a massive political fundraising operation that raised $3.6 million in 2004.

When Democratic Rep. Mark Udall in Colorado’s 2nd District decided to run for an open Senate seat in 2008, Polis ran for Udall’s House seat. In the Democratic primary, he faced former state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and conservationist Will Shafroth. Most of the state’s Democratic establishment backed Fitz-Gerald, based on her political seasoning. Pouring his own money into the campaign, Polis outspent his opponents 4-to-1. In the August 2008 primary, he got 42% of the vote, followed by Fitz-Gerald with 38% and Shafroth with 20%. In the general election, Republican nominee Scott Starin, an engineer, raised less than $100,000 and provided little serious opposition. Polis won 63% to 34%. All in all, he spent $7 million, $6 million of it his own. The nonpartisan watchdog Center for Responsive Politics ranked Polis in 2011 as the third-wealthiest member of the House, pegging his wealth in the range of $215 million, based on his financial disclosure reports.

In Washington, Democratic leaders gave Polis a seat on the influential Rules Committee, which controls the terms of debate for major bills that reach the floor of the House. He introduced a bill in May 2012 to prevent pizza from being counted as a vegetable in school lunches after a similar Department of Agriculture proposal met with resistance from the frozen food industry. Two years earlier, he sponsored a bill offering non-dairy alternatives to milk as part of those lunches. He is also apt to get involved in budget issues. He was one of just 22 Democrats to vote in April 2012 for a bill based on the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission. And he and Colorado Republican Mike Coffman got the House in May 2012 to pass their idea to remove the Army’s four permanent brigade combat teams from Western Europe as a cost-saving measure.

In 2009, Polis jumped into the health care debate, taking a leading role in fighting a proposal by his own party that would pay for elements of the overhauled system with a tax on wealthy Americans. Polis maintained that the tax would hurt small business owners who aren’t large enough to organize as corporations. He was chided by liberal bloggers, but he succeeded in corralling 21 other freshman Democrats to sign a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on her to purge the surtax from the bill, and it was not included as part of the sweeping overhaul of health care that passed the House in 2009.

On gay rights issues, Polis is a co-sponsor of a proposed repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that permits states to refuse to recognize gay marriages. Obama has said he will sign the repeal if it passes, and by the end of 2012, it had attracted more than 150 co-sponsors. Polis was among the Democrats who unsuccessfully sought to amend the House-passed Violence Against Women Act in May 2012 to expand protections for gay people.

Using social media has also been a central element of Polis’ time in office. By the end of 2012 he had more than 1,200 subscribers on Facebook and more than 35,000 followers on Twitter. “It’s a very tech-savvy district, a very wired district,” he says. He and Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah teamed up on a bill in September 2012 aimed at clarifying the confusing rules governing digital music broadcasting royalties.

Polis also has displayed an impressive fundraising ability, collecting from liberal interest groups and investment companies while donating money to politically vulnerable Democrats through his Jared Polis Victory Fund. In 2010, he made it onto Time magazine’s “40 Under 40” list of young movers and shakers. He had little trouble winning reelection in 2010, dispatching tea party-backed Republican Stephen Bailey with 57%. In redistricting two years later, Polis picked up all of Larimer County, which had traditionally been a swing area. But he won anyway, taking 56% over state Sen. Kevin Lundberg. He donated more money to his own campaign—nearly $385,000—than Lundberg raised overall.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2161

(202) 226-7840

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1433
Washington, DC 20515-0602

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2161

(202) 226-7840

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1433
Washington, DC 20515-0602

DISTRICT OFFICE

(303) 484-9596

(303) 568-9007

1644 Walnut Street
Boulder, CO 80302

DISTRICT OFFICE

(303) 484-9596

(303) 568-9007

1644 Walnut Street
Boulder, CO 80302

DISTRICT OFFICE

(970) 409-7301

PO Box 1453
Frisco, CO 80443-1453

DISTRICT OFFICE

(970) 409-7301

PO Box 1453
Frisco, CO 80443-1453

DISTRICT OFFICE

(970) 226-1239

1220 South College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO 80525

DISTRICT OFFICE

(970) 226-1239

1220 South College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO 80525

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(303) 381-0121

3223 Arapahoe Avenue Suite 220
Boulder, CO 80303

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 4572
Boulder, CO 90306

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Arts

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Banking

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Budget

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Campaign

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Communication

Danielle Henry
Constituent Advocate

Congress

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Crime

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Economics

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Education

Bo Morris
Legislative Assistant

bo.morris@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2161

Jamie Grim
Education Advocate

jamie.grim@mail.house.gov
(970) 226-1239

Energy

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Family

Bo Morris
Legislative Assistant

bo.morris@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2161

Finance

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Foreign

Eve Lieberman
Chief of Staff

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Jorge Loweree
Senior Counsel

Danielle Henry
Constituent Advocate

Grants

Mara Brosy-Wiwchar
Outreach Director

Gun Issues

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Health

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Danielle Henry
Constituent Advocate

Human Rights

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Jorge Loweree
Senior Counsel

Intelligence

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Intergovernmental

Nissa Erickson
District Representative

Internet

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Judiciary

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Danielle Henry
Constituent Advocate

Land Use

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Stuart Feinhor
Constituent Advocate

Military

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Stuart Feinhor
Constituent Advocate

Minorities

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

National Security

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Privacy

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Recreation

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Science

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Social Security

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Stuart Feinhor
Constituent Advocate

Tax

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Danielle Henry
Constituent Advocate

Technology

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Eve Lieberman
Chief of Staff

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Craig Frucht
Press Secretary

Trade

Mike Berman
Legislative Director

Transportation

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Blaine Miller-McFeeley
Legislative Assistant

Stuart Feinhor
Constituent Advocate

Welfare

Bo Morris
Legislative Assistant

bo.morris@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2161

Women

Jennifer George-Nichol
Legislative Assistant

Camilla Vogt
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Jared Polis
Votes: 234,758
Percent: 55.69%
Kevin Lundberg
Votes: 162,639
Percent: 38.58%
2012 PRIMARY
Jared Polis
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Jared Polis
Votes: 148,720
Percent: 57.41%
Stephen Bailey
Votes: 98,171
Percent: 37.9%
2010 PRIMARY
Jared Polis
Votes: 47,347
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Jared Polis
Votes: 215,571
Percent: 62.6%
Scott Starin
Votes: 116,591
Percent: 33.86%
2008 PRIMARY
Jared Polis
Votes: 20,493
Percent: 41.68%
Joan Fitz-Gerald
Votes: 18,599
Percent: 37.83%
Will Shafroth
Votes: 10,075
Percent: 20.49%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (57%), 2008 (63%)

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