DENVER — Colorado voters have elected Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to a second term as governor, according to ABC News and The Associated Press, as Polis leads Republican Heidi Ganahl 61% to 37% as of 7:45 p.m.
ABC News called the race around 7:30 p.m., when Polis led by about 190,000 votes. That lead was up to about 280,000 votes by 7:45 p.m. The Associated Press called the race at 8 p.m.
“Tonight, I am honored that the people of Colorado have chosen to share in our belief that Colorado’s brightest days are still ahead,” Polis said in a statement. “Our approach is simple: we focus on issues that affect people’s lives, and deliver real results. … Whether you voted for me or not, I will work as hard as I possibly can on behalf of you and your family, and I will never stop fighting for a better future for our state.”
Polls had predicted a wide victory margin for Polis over Ganahl, the University of Colorado regent who was the last Republican elected to statewide office in Colorado in 2018.
His wide lead over Ganahl as of 7:45 p.m., if it holds, is even wider than his 10+ point win over Republican Walker Stapleton in 2018, when Polis first won the governor’s office.
The sitting governor and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, have focused their administration and reelection bids on saving Coloradans money — on health care, schooling, property taxes, prescription drug prices, and a push toward vehicle electrification and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon use.
Polis ran a campaign pledging to continue his push for savings for Coloradans in the midst of interest rate hikes and high inflation when it comes to some industries and products.
He also ran on his record — leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple mass shootings, several of the state’s largest and most destructive wildfires and the social justice and women’s rights movements over the past four years.
During his first four years in office, he signed numerous important bills, including the red flag law, Senate Bill 217 that contained sweeping criminal justice and police reforms, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, a law that lowered criminal penalties for certain crimes to cut down on incarceration for low-level offenses, and then another that increased penalties for fentanyl possession and trafficking, as well as several laws aimed at bolstering the state’s ability to respond to wildfires, drought and water shortages.
Ganahl had picked Danny Moore as her running mate, who had been removed as chair of the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistrict Commission over election conspiracy theory posts he made after the 2020 election.
While the former dog day care owner tried to find a balance between portraying herself as a traditional Reagan-style Republican and the new-age extreme factions of the party, she needed to win over unaffiliated voters in a state now dominated by them. Republicans are now third in terms of voter registration in Colorado behind unaffiliated and Democratic voters.
Ganahl released a statement congratulating Polis on his victory.
“Tonight did not go the way we had hoped and prayed for, but I know this movement is real. This Mom on a Mission is proud to have given a voice to the army of mad moms, dads, and grandparents of Colorado who are scared about what the future of our beautiful state holds for our kids and grandkids," she said. “Governor Polis, I wish you well, and my prayers will be with you. This election is over, but our problems are not."
Her campaign focused on rising crime and homelessness rates in Colorado and her push to abolish the state’s income tax and sacrifice billions in government funding, but also in the final month or two of the election on debunked falsehoods that Colorado students were identifying as “furries” and using litterboxes in school — a conspiracy theory pushed by several far-right candidates and their supporters across the country.
She had said she supported the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs and that she opposed the Reproductive Health Equity Act.