Democrat Jared Polis wins second term as Colorado governor
DENVER (AP) — Democrat Jared Polis handily won a second term as Colorado’s governor Tuesday, fending off a spirited challenge from Republican Heidi Ganahl, a business entrepreneur who was seeking to become the state’s first GOP governor since 2007.
Polis, a wealthy tech entrepreneur who largely self-funded his campaign this midterm election, highlighted during his campaign how Colorado quickly emerged from the coronavirus shutdown under his guidance and was poised for strong economic growth. He championed first-term successes in health care affordability, fully-funded kindergarten and preschool, and vowed to continue his pursuit to move Colorado’s electrical grid to renewable energy by 2040.
President Joe Biden called Polis Tuesday evening to congratulate Polis on his victory, and, at a Democratic watch party at a Denver hotel, the governor thanked Ganahl and extended good will to those who voted against him.
“Whether you voted for me or not, I will work as hard as I possibly can on behalf of you and your family,” Polis said as his supporters hooted and hollered, brandishing signs reading, “Strong Steady Proven.”
Ganahl campaigned on the slogan “#MadMom” as she pinned the blame on Polis for inflation, surging crime, underperforming schools and opioid overdose rates affecting youth. She insisted she’d eliminate the state income tax and ask voters to reconsider a law signed by Polis enshrining the right to abortion into state law. Ganahl is a University of Colorado regent.
“Governor Polis, I wish you well, and my prayers will be with you,” Ganahl said in a concession statement. “This election is over, but our problems are not. … Please do not ignore the cries of help from so many in our state.”
Polis highlighted his administration’s efforts to ease inflation’s burdens on Colorado families and address rampant car theft and other crimes that have soared in U.S. cities after the pandemic. He also came under withering criticism from Ganahl for opioid overdose rates that are taking their toll on Colorado’s children.
Polis countered by criticizing Ganahl for appointing a running mate who has claimed that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president in 2020.
He won during an election in which about seven in 10 Colorado voters say things in the country are heading in the wrong direction, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 2,700 voters in the state.
About three-quarters of voters say the condition of the economy is either not so good or poor, the survey found, compared with about a quarter who call it excellent or good. About a third say their family is falling behind financially.
The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, also played a role in most voters’ decisions, with about eight in 10 calling it a factor in how they cast their ballot. About a quarter call the court’s overturning of Roe the single most important factor in their vote.
Courtney Danis, a 20-year-old psychology student, said the main reason she voted for Polis is to protect abortion rights for all women — even though she long opposed abortion on a personal level.
Citing the Supreme Court’s Roe decision, she said: “I realized things can happen to people without them choosing it … and it’s important to at least have a choice in (having an abortion).”
Associated Press writers Sarah Rankin in Washington, D.C., and Jesse Bedayn in Arvada, Colorado contributed to this report.
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