In a race she calls ‘combat,’ Colorado governor candidate Ganahl pledges overhaul if elected
The Republican tells Grand Junction crowd the 2020 election got her ‘fired up’
Republican candidate for Colorado governor, Heidi Ganahl, talks to supporter Larry Cappetto at Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction on Oct. 24, 2022. Mesa County Republican Party Chairman Kevin McCarney is at left. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
If elected Colorado governor in two weeks, Republican candidate Heidi Ganahl said one of her first tasks would be to “undo” as much as she possibly can.
Ganahl, 56, was speaking to a crowd of around 90 supporters who came to listen, meet and mingle during a candidate event Monday at Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction.
“Polis has grown government by 25%,” Ganahl said, referring to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. “I will roll back government 10% each year,” 40% during her first term.
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Mesa County Republican Party Chairman Kevin McCarney welcomed the crowd, then asked a volunteer to lead the group in prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
McCarney then accused Democrats of “killing kids,” while talking about abortion.
“We’re going to sweep Mesa County. It’s a turn-out election,” McCarney said before introducing Ganahl. “The Dems’ one thing to argue about is abortion. It’s pretty sad how they want to kill more kids. I’m so proud of (Ganahl); she can beat the crap out of Polis. We’ve wanted a fighter in Colorado for a long time. She’s it.”
Ganahl greeted the crowd with: “Who’s ready to change the direction in the state in 15 days? My goal is to make it fun to be a Republican again.”
“Pinocchio Polis likes to tell some mistruths,” Ganahl continued. “He likes to say fentanyl is not a problem in Colorado, that inflation is not that bad, our kids are doing great. That he loves rural Colorado.”
As the spouse of a barbecue restaurant owner, Ganahl said if elected governor, there will never be a MeatOut Day in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed March 20, 2021, as MeatOut Day, to encourage residents to skip eating meat for one day. The nonbinding proclamation rankled some conservatives, prompting the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association to celebrate a “Meat In” on that same day.
Ganahl shared some of her personal story, of how she and her first husband used to have a hobby of writing up business ideas. After he was killed in a plane crash — she was 27 — Ganahl took one of her ideas and in 2000, opened Camp Bow Wow, a doggy day care business that eventually spread into nationwide franchising.
According to Colorado Public Radio by 2014, Camp Bow Wow was earning more than $100 million in revenue across its franchises before Ganahl sold the business to a national veterinary company for between $17 and $20 million.
It wasn’t until after marrying her second husband, and having four children, that she decided to get involved in politics.
“I was mad at the government telling me what to do with my business,” she said. “So, I jumped into the (University of Colorado) regent race,” she said.
State regulators had told Camp Bow Wow that they needed one employee for every 15 dogs — as opposed to one for every 25 dogs, CPR reported. Ganahl said it was unnecessary and would be too costly.
My priority as governor will be to trust you to make decisions for your life and health.
– GOP governor candidate Heidi Ganahl
Ganahl was the last Republican to win statewide office when she was elected to the CU Board of Regents in 2018. When she first considered running for governor friends told her that Polis would be too formidable an opponent, she told the Edgewater Brewery crowd.
She began having bad headaches in 2020, and ended up having surgery to remove a brain tumor, known as a benign meningioma. She said she realized she wouldn’t be doing much of anything for a while.
Then, the 2020 election happened and she “got fired up,” she said. “When they took out that tumor they took out my filter. I’m feisty, ready to go. I’m going to fight like heck to make sure we get our beautiful Colorado back.”
Ganahl said she questions polls that show she lags 20 points behind Polis. She described her campaign as “hand-to-hand combat.”
“You are my special forces,” she said. “Don’t pay attention to the ads.”
“We are still under emergency public health order. The only thing I will mandate as governor is freedom,” including the right to refuse COVID vaccines for kids, she said. “My priority as governor will be to trust you to make decisions for your life and health.”
She said she would replace as many board and commission members as possible, and that she would also replace the state parole board.
“Crime is horrible,” she said. “I will have the backs of law enforcement. I will keep the bad guys in jail.”
She also said she would make any amount of fentanyl possession a felony. Polis signed into law House Bill 22-1326, a fentanyl law that made possession of more than one gram of a substance containing fentanyl a felony.
John Justman, a Fruita farmer who served as Mesa County commissioner from 2013 to 2021, attended the Grand Junction event. He said he agreed with Ganahl that any amount of fentanyl possession should be a felony. He also likes her stance on energy.
Ganahl said Colorado should be developing more of its oil and gas instead of depending on countries like Venezuela and Iran.
Her platform also includes being a voice for rural Colorado, and fixing roads — “not projects for climate change,” she said.
If elected, Ganahl said she would enact a zero-income tax policy, which would “require government to tighten its belt.” She added that she would bring businesses to Colorado to refill those depleted state coffers.
Ganahl never mentioned furries — she has been criticized in national media for spreading the debunked claim that kids are identifying as animals, “furries,” and that schools are accommodating them.
“Sixty percent of our kids cannot read or do math,” Ganahl said. “I would go all in on school choice. I’m for choice, transparency and competition.”
Colorado Pols reported that the 60% statistic is far from accurate, and that Colorado kids actually test better than average when it comes to reading.
Ganahl ended her speech without taking questions, although she did hang around to pose for selfies and talk one-on-one with supporters.
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