University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl announces her 2022 campaign for Colorado governor outside Rosie’s Diner in Monument on Sept. 14, 2021. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
Heidi Ganahl, who holds an at-large position on the University of Colorado Board of Regents and is the only Republican currently elected to statewide office in Colorado, on Tuesday launched her campaign for governor in 2022.
“Colorado needs a comeback, and I’m here to give back to the greatest state in the nation,” Ganahl said at a morning event outside Rosie’s Diner in Monument, where the Highlands Ranch resident grew up. Around 50 people, including Republican House Assistant Minority Leader Tim Geitner and Senate Minority Whip Paul Lundeen, gathered with coffee and donuts while Ganahl gave a 20-minute speech.
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While rumors of Ganahl’s intent to run for governor had been circulating for months, it became official on Friday, when Ganahl filed paperwork with the secretary of state’s office to jump into the race. Ganahl is the best-known candidate in the Republican primary thus far, but if she emerges victorious next spring she would face steep odds in a Democratic-leaning state facing incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who was elected to a first term in 2018.
Ganahl was elected to a six-year term on the Board of Regents in 2016. As governor, Ganahl said she would seek to address the high suicide rate among Colorado youths, tackle the “root cause of homelessness and crime” and improve the state’s transportation system, among other priorities.
Ganahl sought to draw a contrast between herself and Polis by pointing to the incumbent governor’s wealth. Polis is a multi-millionaire and successful businessman who heavily self-funded his 2018 campaign.
Ganahl, who founded a national dog day-care chain, Camp Bow Wow, described herself as someone who once struggled with student loans. She said she would accept Colorado’s voluntary spending limits for political candidates.
“He spent a fortune to win,” Ganahl said of Polis. “He’ll spend another fortune to remain in power.”
When asked whether she believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen, as many Colorado conservatives do, Ganahl told reporters she didn’t want to get into that on the day of her campaign launch.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Democratic Party sought to draw a straight line from Ganahl to former President Donald Trump and Rep. Lauren Boebert. Both Republicans have publicly questioned U.S. election integrity.
“Heidi Ganahl can try to erase her tweets, but she can’t hide her long track record of being in lockstep with Donald Trump, Cory Gardner, Lauren Boebert, and the far-right fringe,” party spokesperson Nico Delgado said in a written statement. Gardner was a one-term Republican senator from Colorado who lost reelection last year to Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper. “Ganahl’s association with right wing politicians and groups doesn’t match up with her dishonest rebrand — and Coloradans will see right through it.”
Ganahl made two $1,000 donations to Boebert’s congressional campaign in August and September 2020, according to federal campaign finance disclosures.
Other Republicans who’ve declared their intent to challenge Polis include Laurie Clark, a Monument trustee and real estate broker who loaned her gubernatorial campaign $50,000; and Greg Lopez, the former Colorado district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration and former director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver. Lopez’s campaign reported receiving $33,100 for the current election cycle and ended the month of June with $12,600 on hand.
A third Republican, Danielle Neuschwanger, operates a real estate business based in Englewood, and according to her campaign website she founded a small HVAC construction company with her husband. Neuschwanger has loaned her campaign a total of $16,500 and reported having $16,200 on hand at the end of the last fundraising period.
Polis’ campaign, meanwhile, reported having $268,000 on hand at the end of June.
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