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U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, far right, speaks at a campaign event in Denver on Aug. 30, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Days after he won the Democratic nomination for governor, Jared Polis met with former Republican candidate Cynthia Coffman.

The conversation didn’t go unnoticed — word trickled back to Republican Walker Stapleton’s campaign — and it raises speculation about whether Coffman would endorse Polis, instead of her party’s nominee.

In an interview Tuesday with The Colorado Sun, Polis for the first time confirmed the early July meeting. He downplayed the significance, saying they didn’t discuss an endorsement or the lieutenant governor’s post.

But at the same time, he reaffirmed their close relationship and suggested he would welcome her into his administration if she was interested.

”Cynthia and I have been friends for more than a decade so I always seek her counsel and advice,” Polis said. “She’s been a great attorney general.”

The meeting contrasts with Coffman’s relationship with Stapleton. The two apparently haven’t spoken in recent months. And when CBS4’s Shaun Boyd asked Stapleton in a recent interview if Coffman was supporting his campaign, he replied: “I hope so.”

The bad blood between Coffman and Stapleton traces to the GOP assembly, where Coffman blasted Stapleton for his driving under the influence conviction, and Stapleton’s allies waged a smear campaign that helped block her from the primary ballot.

The lingering issues belie the unity in the Republican Party after the primary that Stapleton often celebrates. Coffman declined to discuss the Polis meeting, but she said through a spokeswoman that she was not invited to the party’s unity tour. (A state party spokesman said only primary candidates were invited — not those from the assembly.)

Polis suggested he talks to Coffman often. He served in Congress at the same time as Coffman’s former husband, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. As spouses, Cynthia Coffman and Polis’ husband, Marlon Reis, bonded at congressional events.

One topic Polis and Coffman discussed at their meeting was opioids. He credited her work on the issue, and if elected, Polis said he would continue Coffman’s programs once she leaves office.

“Cynthia has been a good leader for our state, and I really value her counsel and I am making sure we don’t drop any balls in the transition,” he said.

This story first appeared in The Colorado Sun’s politics newsletter, The Unaffiliated. You can subscribe here:

John Frank is a former Colorado Sun staff writer. He left the publication in January 2021.