Jun 29, 2022 - News

Heidi Ganahl tops Greg Lopez to win GOP nomination for Colorado governor

Greg Lopez, left, at a debate in 2018. Heidi Ganahl at a campaign event in 2021. Photos: Andy Cross and RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images
Greg Lopez, left, at a debate in 2018. Heidi Ganahl at a campaign event in 2021. Photos: Andy Cross and RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

Heidi Ganahl, the only statewide elected Republican in Colorado, will challenge Gov. Jared Polis in the November midterms.

Driving the news: Ganahl received 53% of the vote, according to preliminary vote tallies, and the AP declared her the winner at 8pm Tuesday.

  • Her rival, Greg Lopez, stood at 47%.

Why it matters: If she wins, Ganahl would be the first woman elected governor in Colorado and the first Republican in 16 years.

Yes, but: It won't be easy.

The contest starts lopsided with Ganahl's campaign account essentially empty and Polis, a millionaire tech entrepreneur and congressional veteran, prepared to spend whatever it takes to win.

  • In 2018, Polis doled out $23 million of his own money.
  • Even Ganahl has called beating Polis a "moonshot."

What she's saying: "Our team and our supporters are energized and ready to fight for our Colorado way of life. Let's tell Jared Polis this is an election, not an auction," Ganahl said in a statement.

Catch up quick: Ganahl campaigned with support from prominent Republicans, but her campaign sputtered and she never established dominant front-runner status.

  • She pledged to roll back much of the Democratic legislation signed by Polis, including abortion protections, and to cut the size of state government, suggesting it was too bloated.

Lopez, who was first elected as the Democratic mayor of Parker before switching parties, swerved hard right.

  • He embraced a no-exceptions ban on abortions, questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election and promised to pardon the Mesa County clerk who was indicted for tampering with election equipment after the 2020 vote.

What's next: Ganahl will need significant help to build a serious campaign and mount a credible challenge to Polis.

  • The abortion issue is expected to define the race and make it difficult for her to get support from independent-minded voters.
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