Jared Polis vs. Heidi Ganahl: The Fast-Paced Colorado Governor’s Race

The Governor’s Race Hits a Phenomenal Speed This Week

Colorado’s governor serves a four-year term. Polis, a wealthy tech entrepreneur who self-funded his campaign, touted first-term successes like limiting health care costs and expanding kindergarten and preschool access and vowed to make the state one of the nation’s safest.

Ganahl, a Weld County rancher and founder of the Camp Bow Wow pet care franchise, focused her criticisms on political issues. She sought to promote education choice and argued that any amount of fentanyl possession should be a felony.

Jared Polis vs. Heidi Ganahl

The Colorado governor’s race hit its fastest pace this week, with two debates in the past week between Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and his Republican challenger, Heidi Ganahl. During the debates, the candidates covered a lot of ground, including crime, fentanyl and housing costs.

Polis, a Democrat, is seeking a second term as governor after winning a wave election in 2018, when Democrats swept every statewide office and increased their majorities in the state Senate and House. In a surprisingly close race, he has been ahead of businesswoman Ganahl in most public polls, but the gap was never expected to be that wide.

Polis emphasized his commitments to get children into free full-day kindergarten, reduce health care costs and push policies to combat climate change. He poured $12 million of his own fortune into his campaign and kept the focus on those issues. Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent who founded Camp Bow Wow, a national pet care franchise and SheFactor, an online community for women, focused on family court reform.


In addition to partisanship, the election will also be shaped by issues such as affordable housing, climate change and the Colorado River’s dire condition. A new KFF/CHF poll finds that voters without a party affiliation most often cite education, health care and housing costs as the biggest problems they want to hear candidates address.


Voters in Colorado are among 19 states that allow them to recall their governors and other state officials. Recall proponents must file a petition with the officer who accepts nominations for the office in question, which for governor is the secretary of state. If a sufficient number of ballots are collected, the office in question must hold a recall election within six months. No governor has ever been recalled.


Colorado voters have high enthusiasm about voting this fall, with nearly three-quarters of those polled saying they are very or somewhat motivated to vote in November. But the state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee is not getting much help from the rest of his party, with only 53% of voters ages 44 and younger and 49% of Latinos saying they are very or somewhat enthusiastic about casting their ballot.

In addition, many Coloradans are expressing confidence that their votes will count in November, with 71% of Democrats, 92% of Republicans, and 53% of independents saying they are very or somewhat confident that elections in Colorado are conducted fairly and accurately.

Overall, voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle issues such as abortion and caring for the middle class. But Colorado voters are more divided on hot-button issues such as guns, the economy, and crime.


By the afternoon of Election Day, nearly 42 million Americans had gotten a jump on their votes by casting ballots through mail or heading to in-person early voting centers. The United States Election Project says that indicates a significant number of voters are still opting to go early, and may continue doing so throughout the night.

As of a few hours before polls closed, NBC News had projected that Jared Polis would win reelection to his second term as Colorado governor. At the Democratic watch party, he credited his victory to “data-driven policies” during the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to cut costs for Coloradans.

The gubernatorial race in Colorado is one of 36 statewide offices up for grabs this year along with multiple ballot measures. For more information on candidates, see this Newsline Voter Guide.

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