Election 2018GovernorHot SheetJared PolisMilitary

Polis slips up on role of National Guard; Sias calls foul

Author: Joey Bunch - November 2, 2018 - Updated: November 5, 2018

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PolisDemocrat Jared Polis talks about his plans as governor on 9News’ “Next” this week. (Photo courtesy of 9News via YouTube)

Former fighter pilot Lang Sias, the Republican pick for Colorado lieutenant governor, called out Jared Polis Friday over a televised misstatement about the National Guard.

On KUSA-9News’ Next with Kyle Clark program Thursday, the Democratic nominee for governor said he wouldn’t give President Trump access to Colorado Army National Guard troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border if he thinks it’s politically motivated.

“You could use the same rational to not allow someone to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq,” Clark said to Polis. “Is that dangerous?”

> WATCH: Jared Polis’ closing arguments for Colorado governor

Polis replied: “Well, it wouldn’t be Colorado National Guard units going to Afghanistan or Iraq. It would be, you know, U.S. military.”

Actually, National Guard units have provided a large percentage of the personnel in both wars.

Sias retired as a Navy  Topgun pilot and instructor after 12 years, then joined the Air National Guard. He deployed with National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom as an F-16 pilot. In 2005, he commanded a unit of forward air controllers in Kirkuk and Hawija in Iraq.

“I’m appalled that someone who wants to be our next governor and have command of the Colorado National Guard is so ignorant that he doesn’t even know about the National Guard’s involvement in the war on terror,” Sias said in a statement Friday.

> WATCH: Walker Stapleton’s closing arguments for Colorado governor

“Our National Guardsmen have fought and died for our country. Those killed and wounded include members of the Air National Guard unit I commanded and the Army National Guard Brigade to which we were attached. The next governor should recognize the sacrifice these men and women have made to protect our freedom. While Congressman Polis seems to have no idea what the National Guard even does, I know Walker will be a governor who always supports our troops.”

Polis’ team didn’t own up to the mistake, but it stuck to Polis’ main point in the 9News discussion.

“Coloradans are best served when our National Guard troops are here in Colorado keeping our communities safe,” spokesperson Mara Sheldon said in a statement. “Jared would not permit President Trump to use our National Guard for a political stunt aimed at stoking fear among the American people.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.