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Democrats, Republicans Put On Unified Front Heading Into November

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)- After a divisive primary election, Colorado's Democratic and Republican parties are putting on a unified front behind their candidates for governor heading into November.

Democratic heavyweights, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Congressman Ed Perlmutter, gathered outside the state Capitol to rally around their gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis.

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Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and Gov. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

"It's Jared time in Colorado!" said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Among the no-shows were Polis's primary opponents, who sent written endorsements instead.

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

Democrats insisted it was a scheduling conflict.

"The proof is in the campaign. Are they willing to go out knock on doors, talk to local media, travel the state and I think they're all on-board," said Hickenlooper.

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(credit: CBS)

Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton had no doubt his primary opponents are on-board.

"I'm going to start out by making a max contribution," former gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson said, handing Stapleton a check as he introduced him at the GOP unity tour, "We need to elect this man."

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(credit: CBS)

All three Republican gubernatorial candidates showed up for the tour, including Victor Mitchell who called Stapleton a liar during the primary.

RELATED: Colorado Primary Election Results

The Republicans' election is strategy clear: Polis will be a Bernie Sanders liberal.

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Walker Stapleton (credit: CBS)

"He wants to have free preschool. I love preschool. I have preschool age kids," said Stapleton, "I just don't know how he's going to pay for it."

Democrats' strategy is clear too: Stapleton has already hitched his wagon to Pres. Donald Trump.

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(credit: CBS)

"Donald Trump continuing his crusade to rob people of their healthcare, to rip families apart, to sell public lands to polluters," said Polis.

In a state where a sliver of independents will decide the election, neither a Trump nor a Sanders approach will fly and no one knows better than the current governor. Hickenlooper downplayed Polis's promise that the state would go all renewable by 2040, saying it may not happen that soon but it will happen some year.

Walker Stapleton
Gov. Bill Owens shakes hands with Walker Stapleton after introducing him after his primary win. (credit: CBS)

He says Polis is ambitious not extreme, "I think Jared Polis is going to come across - you watch - I think he's going to run as a moderate and I think he's going to govern as a moderate."

The first poll of the general election was released today. It was commissioned by the Colorado Democratic Party so Republicans are sure to dismiss it. It shows Polis with a 46 to 38 percent lead over Stapleton among likely general election voters, and a 43 to 31 percent lead over Stapleton with unaffiliated voters.

Colorado Primary Election Day 2018
Democratic candidate Jared Polis accepts the nomination for Colorado Governor during his watch party at the Flatiron Ballroom in the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel on June 26, 2018 in Broomfield, Colorado. Polis beat 3 other democratic candidates in the primary election which included Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, and Donna Lynne. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The poll also shows that Stapleton's statewide favorability rating is 15 points underwater -- worse numbers than Trump's job approval -- with a favorable rating of 27 percent and an unfavorable rating of 42 percent.

Meanwhile, Polis starts the general election campaign in positive territory. Some 65,000 more unaffiliated voters cast a Democratic ballot in the primary than a Republican one.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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