GOP candidate Heidi Ganahl launches women’s coalition to bolster bid for Colorado governor
Over 800 people have signed up for Ganahl Gals so far, according to campaign
Republican candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl kicks off her campaign’s “Ganahl Gals” women coalition at Denver Christian School on March 29, 2022. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)
Approximately 80 women gathered at a private Christian school in Lakewood on Tuesday morning to talk politics. They mingled to a playlist that featured hits like Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.” They took photos with a golden retriever puppy outfitted in a blue campaign bandana. And they prayed over the gubernatorial candidate they believe is best poised for victory in November, who one attendee compared to the biblical prophet Deborah: Heidi Ganahl.
It was the launch of the statewide coalition of women dubbed Ganahl Gals, which the campaign hopes will organize and inspire the crucial voting demographic of conservative women to turn out for the primary and general elections.
“There is something in the air,” Ganahl told the crowd. “As I travel the state, it is the women who are organizing. It is the women who are coming together. It is the women who want to win. Women are going to win back Colorado this fall — that’s why we’re launching Ganahl Gals, because I see it everywhere I go. It’s palpable.”
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Approximately 800 women have joined the group, according to the campaign, but Ganahl’s team hopes that number grows into the thousands.
She alluded to women’s role in helping elect Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin last November against one-time Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe. Analysts agree that white women in particular helped power Youngkin to victory as they resonated with his campaign anchored on education issues. That is the demographic that turned out to launch Ganahl Gals, though the breakdown of the other few hundred registrants isn’t yet clear.
There were approximately 70,000 more female active registered voters than male voters as of February, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The Ganahl Gals will be equipped with efficient talking points about the candidate to share with their networks. That includes statements like, “Heidi is running as a new face for the ever-changing GOP” and how she has “a heart for all people and critters,” according to a handout. Organizers encouraged the attendees Tuesday to post on social media and get out into the community with the message.
“This is the path to winning this election,” Ganahl said. “It’s you going out and talking to 10 of your neighbors, who don’t normally talk about politics, about things they care about, about kitchen table topics.”
Ganahl’s speech to the women hit some of the usual lines she uses during candidate forums and rallies — about incumbent Gov. Jared Polis being an “out-of-touch failure,” rising crime and a desire for smaller government. This time, however, she struck a more emotional, conversational tone and appealed to women’s roles as mothers.
“I truly believe that mothers have had enough. You can do a lot to hurt us, but you cannot mess with our kids,” she said.
She brought up the drug addiction and suicide rates among children, as well poor educational statistics.
“Sixty percent of our kids cannot read, write or do math at grade level. Sixty percent. What does that future look like? It’s very, very dark and sad,” she said.
Ganahl currently serves as an at-large member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents and is the only Republican currently elected to statewide office.
Ganahl is one of the leading Republican candidates for governor. Real estate agent Danielle Neuschwanger and the former mayor of Parker Greg Lopez are also top contenders for the party’s nomination.
From schoolyard politics to the governor’s race
That message taps into the frustration some women felt with unpredictable school closure and mask policies over the course of the pandemic. The two chairs of Ganahl Gals, Beth Parker and Lindsay Datko, led a group called Jeffco Kids First that advocated for schools to remain open. They want to capture that political momentum from pandemic activism, and think the next step is to elect a governor who will focus on the emotional and educational healing for students.
“Women in general, especially moms, have become more involved in their local and state politics because of what’s happening in schools,” Parker said. “I think women are just looking to get more involved in how the government can work for them.”
Parker said she voted for Democrats her entire life because of where she stands socially, but the pandemic turned her into a one-issue voter centered on her three children. She sees her 10-year-old and 8-year-old still struggling with literacy issues, and her 14-year-old missing out on key social experiences.
“I will vote for the candidate who I think will have my kids’ best interest at heart, and that’s why I’m passionately working for Heidi now because I believe she is the one to do it,” Parker said.
Datko, the other chair, said that one of her priorities in organizing Ganahl Gals is to create an atmosphere where everyone feels confident sharing their message, even when facing people with different political ideologies. That can be difficult, especially for women who have never engaged in the political process on this level.
“Hopefully Beth and I can inspire people to be confident, but to do it with dignity so that there’s no hate or contention,” she said. “Contention will destroy an entire community.”
The Republican state assembly to determine which candidates will make the primary ballot will be held on April 9 in Colorado Springs. Ganahl filed her petition to make the ballot to the secretary of state’s office on March 14, but the office hasn’t yet deemed it sufficient.
The primary election will be on June 28.
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