Gov. Jared Polis carries Democrats to big wins in Colorado
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis easily won his re-election contest against an election-denying Republican rival and helped carry Democrats to big victories statewide.
Driving the news: The popular governor took 58% of the vote compared to 40% for challenger Heidi Ganahl, according to preliminary totals at 11:30pm.
- The Associated Press declared Polis the victor an hour after polls closed at 7pm — a signal that he dominated the race and foretelling other major Democratic wins later in the night.
What he's saying: The governor thanked voters for sharing "in my belief that Colorado's best days are still ahead."
Zoom in: Down the ballot, Democratic incumbents who swept into historic power in 2018 held their positions and won amid a national political environment that favored the party out of power.
- Attorney General Phil Weiser received 54%, Secretary of State Jena Griswold took 55% and Treasurer Dave Young won with 54%, 11:30pm returns showed. All their Republican challengers conceded defeat.
- In the state Legislature, Democrats appeared to maintain control of the state House and state Senate with the party declaring victory in both contests.
Why it matters: With complete control of lawmaking, and holding major power levers, Democrats are poised to build on their efforts to overhaul education, oil and gas regulations and the state's safety net since they took power at the state Capitol in 2019.
Of note: Polis' victory is likely to fuel speculation about a potential Democratic presidential candidacy in 2024 or later, even though he's brushed aside the suggestion for now.
Catch up quick: Polis' re-election never came into doubt, and election watchers mostly focused on whether his margin of victory would propel other Democratic candidates to wins.
- The governor spent about $13 million from his own pocket on the race — far below the $23 million it took to survive a Democratic primary and win the general election in 2018.
- He focused on big wins — delivering on many of his 2018 election promises — and a bipartisan push for freedom to choose, a reference to abortion as a dividing line in the race.
Ganahl put $2 million of her own money into the race, first to win a contested GOP primary against a far-right candidate and then the general election. But her campaign failed to launch, as she colored close to her party lines and didn't make a concerted appeal for middle-of-the-road voters that are decisive in Colorado elections.
- To wit, she closed her campaign by courting election deniers and raising doubts about the 2022 vote.