Heidi Ganahl beats Greg Lopez in GOP primary for Colorado governor

The CU regent will face Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in the fall

By: - June 28, 2022 9:51 pm

Republican Colorado governor candidate Heidi Ganahl speaks at her primary election watch party at the Wide Open Saloon in Sedalia on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

Heidi Ganahl won the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday over former Parker mayor Greg Lopez.

As of 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Ganahl had about 53% of the vote according to results in the Colorado primary election from the secretary of state’s office. The Associated Press called the race at about 8 p.m. in Ganahl’s favor.

“Today is a great day for Colorado. We are one step closer to taking back our Colorado way of life,” Ganahl told supporters at a watch party at the Wide Open Saloon in Sedalia, where she also held a January campaign event. At times, she choked up with emotion.

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Ganahl, 55, is the only Republican elected to statewide office. She became an at-large University of Colorado regent in 2016 and used that electoral success as evidence that she can defeat Polis — and the Democratic establishment — in November.

“It is time for all of us to come together, to join together to win back our state, put aside our differences, put aside our divisiveness. We have one goal now, and that is to beat Jared Polis this fall,” she said to applause and chants of her name.

Ganahl told reporters that she spoke with Lopez via phone following the results and he pledged to work with her for a Republican victory in the fall.

A driver drops off a ballot at a drop box in Parker on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

Throughout her campaign, Ganahl referred to herself as a “mom on a mission” to give more decision-making power to parents over issues like education and health care. She tapped into a group of women and homemakers who were frustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, a chunk of them already politically mobilized by last year’s school board elections, to share her message across the state.

Some of her main platform points include funding a school voucher program, reducing the state bureaucracy, lowering the state gas tax and phasing down the state’s income tax.

For many months Ganahl avoided answering directly whether she thought the 2020 presidential election was legitimate. Recently, however, she denied that fraud cost Republicans the 2020 presidential election in an interview with The Colorado Sun and CBS4, pushing back against the “big lie” claim that other conservative candidates, including Lopez, cling to.

“I want to move forward. I want to bring us together in this state,” she told reporters Tuesday in response to a question about fraud in the 2020 election. She called for transparency in the election process and took time to criticize a recently enacted state election security legislation.

“They made it harder to be transparent and they took power away from the county clerks and gave it to the secretary of state’s office. That doesn’t bode well for making people confident in our elections again. There are a lot of people who feel unsettled about all of the elections and we’ve got to do everything to change that,” she said.

Before politics, Ganahl founded and then sold Camp Bow Wow, a nationally franchised dog day care business. She said her experience as a businesswoman gives her compromise and coalition-building skills to work with a Democratic state legislature.

As of late June, Ganahl had raised about $1.2 million. She will face incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who did not have a primary opponent, in November.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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