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Democrat Caraveo wins Colorado’s new US House district

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo has defeated Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer to win a U.S. House seat in a new district that stretches north of Denver’s suburbs.

The Associated Press called the race Tuesday although Caraveo claimed victory and Kirkmeyer conceded after votes were tabulated on election night on Nov. 8.

Caraveo’s win comes as Republicans try to flip control of the House in the midterm elections after Democrats retained control in the Senate.

Caraveo said in a statement last week claiming victory: “It’s the honor of my lifetime to receive this vote of confidence to serve working families from Greeley to Commerce City in Washington, D.C.”

Caraveo is a pediatrician and defender of abortion rights, who voted for police accountability after protests that followed the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Caraveo hoped her cultural lineage as the child of Mexican immigrants would attract support in a swing district where Latinos comprise nearly 40% of voters.

Kirkmeyer, a former Weld County commissioner, pledged to get tough on crime and unleash the oil and gas industry, which has a significant presence in the district. She once supported a blanket ban on abortion but now says she would respect exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger.

“While this is not the outcome we hoped for,” Kirkmeyer wrote on Twitter announcing her defeat, “I am proud of our team and our campaign.”

How Lauren Boebert’s reelection went from a sure thing to a neck-and-neck race against Adam Frisch — read it in the Denver Post

The race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District was never supposed to be this close, not during a midterm election expected to heavily favor Republicans and in such a deep-red district, largely along the state’s Western Slope.

Polls and politicos said far-right incumbent U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was supposed to have as much as a 9-point advantage. Now, all that’s gone as Colorado and the rest of the country watch a neck-and-neck, back-and-forth race unfold. Boebert’s only leading Democratic challenger Adam Frisch by a fraction of a percentage point.

Frisch, a former Aspen City Councilman, held the country’s attention for much of the week, forcing even the most skeptical observers to wonder if he could beat the incumbent congresswoman, of Silt.

Ultimately, Boebert jumped ahead in the vote count Thursday and held the advantage into Friday. Her lead sits a few hundred votes outside of Colorado’s automatic-recount threshold and Frisch’s only hope of a comeback rests with the scattered and undetermined number of ballots flowing in from out-of-state. Those votes aren’t expected to be counted and reported until later next week.

No matter who wins in the end, Democrats and Republicans alike are studying the race, trying to figure out how it wound up like this.

Read more at DenverPost.com.

Frisch, Boebert in dead heat for 3rd Congressional District as recount looms

Former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch was barely ahead of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, in the battle for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District as returns trickled in Wednesday but with no definitive outcome.

Frisch, a Democrat, was leading the freshman congresswoman by 64 votes as of 8 p.m. Wednesday, according the Colorado secretary of state.

An automatic recount will be triggered if Frisch and Boebert are within one half a percent of each other. Frisch had 50.01% of the vote to Boebert’s 49.99%. Frisch’s vote total stood at 156,746 to Boebert’s 156,682. Those tallies were taken from 98% of the votes that had been counted, according to The Associated Press.

Aspen’s Adam Frisch, running against incumbent Lauren Boebert in Colorado District 3, talks to his supporters at a watch party at Belly Up Aspen on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Aspen. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

A Frisch win would be a monumental upset against predictions made by such media outlets as The New York Times, Politico and, The Cook Political Report — all three of which forecast a Boebert win in a traditionally red district, which was re-aligned in 2001.

“Freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert is a lightning rod for controversy, but her district got more Republican in redistricting. Democrat Adam Frisch will be able to raise a lot of money, if nothing else,” Politico noted in August.

Frisch expressed confidence throughout the campaign that he could pull off a dark-horse win with a centrist approach in his run against the polarizing Boebert, an election-denier who received Donald Trump’s endorsement in her June primary win over state Sen. Don Coram.

“My goal was this could be an emotional win for the country,” Frisch said Tuesday night during his campaign watch party at the Belly Up nightclub in Aspen. “There are a lot of extremists in the House, including on the other side, but, in today’s politics, sadly, if the assumption is if you’re really loud, you must be really electorally strong.”

His campaign was emailing supporters as recently at 4 p.m. Wednesday, preparing to start curing ballots that could not be counted, whether due to an unreadable voter signature or damaged ballot, for example.

“We need to cure ballots to ensure every single vote is counted, which means we need to build our resources to cover these costs,” said the email.

Unofficial returns showed Frisch capturing the popular vote in 13 of the 27 counties in the 3rd Congressional District, and Boebert taking 14, including the district’s largest population center — Grand Junction.

Unofficial results showed Frisch winning in Eagle (2,916 votes, 71.7% of the ballots cast) and Pitkin (7,364 votes, 78.2%) counties, and also received more votes (13,375 votes, 56.38%) than Boebert did in her home county of Garfield. Boebert scored a big win in Mesa County (41,465 votes, 57.75%). Frisch was leading in Pueblo County, the district’s second largest population center behind Mesa, with 30,533 votes, or 53.55%.

As of Sept. 20, the 3rd Congressional District had 114,751 registered Democrat voters, 149,462 Republican voters, 211,236 unaffiliated voters, and 8,797 registered members of minor parties, according to the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission.

Boebert’s campaign did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday, and Frisch said he wouldn’t have a comment until the final, unofficial results were counted.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Final count gives Jankovsky clear edge over Gordon for Garfield County commissioner

It took an extra day of vote-counting, but incumbent Republican Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky appears to have emerged as the winner in his re-election bid over Democratic challenger Ryan Gordon with the final tally released Wednesday afternoon.

After the late-night count Tuesday gave Jankovsky the edge by just 44 votes, there were still 2,859 ballots to prep and process for tabulation, Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico said early Wednesday morning.

The final, unofficial count gave Jankovsky the apparent win for a fourth term as commissioner with 12,058 votes, or 51%, to Gordon’s 11,604, or 49%.

Alberico said there are still as many as 450 ballots that could be counted, including overseas ballots that can still be accepted until Nov. 17, ballots for which voters have the opportunity to correct deficiencies, or ones that fall into other categories for the final count. However, that would not be enough to make up the 454-vote difference in the commissioners race. The next report will not be until Nov. 17, Alberico said.

“I would like to thank my team and all of my supporters,” Jankovsky said. “We had really great support from a diverse group of people, and I appreciate everything they did.”

The result closely mirrored the race two years ago between incumbent Commissioner John Martin and Democrat Beatriz Soto, when Soto held the lead based on early returns, but Martin surpassed her with the later returns to win by 501 votes.

Jankovsky noted that the county’s demographics have shifted some, leading to the closer races at the county level. Republicans also tend to cast their votes on election day, meaning those ballots are the last to be counted.

However, he noted that the other two contested races for county offices, for Clerk and Recorder and Treasurer, went to the Republican candidates once the final votes were tallied.

“What it really means is our electorate is taking a good look at the candidates they have to choose from before making their decisions,” Jankovsky said of the close races.

In those other races, incumbent Treasurer Carrie Couey, the former Garfield County Republican Party chair who was appointed to the treasurer’s post two years ago by the commissioners, won election with 12,053 votes to Republican-turned-Democrat Aron Diaz’s 11,119 votes, according to the final unofficial tally.

And, in the campaign to replace Democrat Alberico, who is retiring after four terms as Clerk and Recorder, longtime clerk’s officer worker Jackie Harmon, a Republican, won over Democrat Becky Moller, 12,162 to 11,006.

In the commissioners’ race, Jankovsky, the former longtime general manager and part owner of Sunlight Mountain ski resort, and Gordon, a Glenwood native and an engineer with the firm SGM in Glenwood Springs, had differed some in their approach to addressing the housing crisis. In particular, Gordon said the county should take a regional approach and work with neighboring local governments to create more workforce housing. Jankovsky leaned toward a multi-tiered approach, leaning heavily on the private sector to build more housing stock and try to bring costs down.

Democratic Garfield County Commissioner District 1 candidate Ryan Gordon looks at the second round of numbers on a camputer at the Democratic watch party at the Bluebird Cafe on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“Housing was a big issue,” Jankovsky said, adding that it went hand in hand with concerns about inflation and the general cost of living. “The economy and inflation are also big concerns, and, for our economy to grow, we’re going to have to have housing.”

Gordon was not immediately available for comment on the latest election tally but said late Tuesday that housing was the major concern he heard from voters on the campaign trail.

“Affordable housing, and all the issues that come with that, was really what was driving people to vote in this election,” he said. “That, and all of the things that are weighing on people’s minds these days.”

Jankovsky took the opportunity to thank him for a clean election.

“I really appreciated him as an opponent,” he said. 

The win gives Jankovsky another four years in office and keeps the Garfield County commissioners 100% Republican. The seats of seven-term incumbent John Martin and four-term incumbent Mike Samson will be up in the 2024 election.

Garfield County saw 24,250 completed ballots returned for Tuesday’s election, for a turnout of 65.6%.

Unofficial results show Buglione defeating DiSalvo in race for Pitkin County sheriff

A new sheriff in town? It looks like it.

Unofficial results from the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office showed challenger Michael Buglione receiving 4,671 votes, or 52.23%, and incumbent three-term Sheriff Joe DiSalvo garnering 4,272 votes, or 47.77%.

The county posted the final official results at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday.

The contest pitted DiSalvo against his former brother-in-law and law-enforcement colleague. Buglione left the sheriff’s department led by DiSalvo in 2019 after they had a falling out over a missed assignment by Buglione.

“I think that Joe finally has a viable candidate that can beat him,” Buglione said around 9:50 p.m. Tuesday with the final results undetermined. His response was to a question about what made his challenge more formidable than the previous two against DiSalvo. “He’s never had to worry in the past, and I think that I am the challenger that can do a better job than Joe.”

Buglione’s campaign was fueled by endorsements from two judges, support from former Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office employees, the backing of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, and a heavy dose of criticism toward DiSalvo.

“I think that the people of Pitkin County will be happy with their new sheriff,” Buglione said. I haven’t wavered from my positions since my March 4 announcement (to run for sheriff) about mental health, substance abuse, housing deputies. And, we don’t need a new jail.”

DiSalvo did not respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday. Previously, he said Buglione was running a smear campaign based on lies and frustrations levied by former employees who didn’t meet the sheriff’s professional standards.

DiSalvo ran on his record as a three-term sheriff who ran an efficient department that he was modernizing with the times. He also enjoyed the support of his mentor and friend Bob Braudis, the immensely popular former Pitkin County sheriff who died June 3. And he received endorsements from Aspen Mayor Torre and City Council members John Doyle and Skippy Mesirow.

But, there were endorsements DiSalvo did not receive that stood out, such as one from Anita Thompson, the widow of maverick journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who hung out with Braudis over the years. She revealed her support for Buglione in a recent Facebook post.

Despite the criticism, the sheriff’s campaign war chest was considerably fuller than Buglione’s.

Starting Oct. 14, DiSalvo reported having $32,605 cash in hand for the cycle ending Oct. 30, according to a campaign finance report. The same report said he spent $17,144 on advertising, marketing, and publicity from Oct. 14 through Oct. 30, leaving him with another $16,311 to spend down the final stretch. He also reported raising $850 in contributions during from Oct. 14-30.

Buglione had $5,043 cash in hand starting Oct. 14, but $3,864 in contributions during the cycle ending Oct. 30 helped fuel an advertising campaign where he spent $6,457 during that period, according to a campaign finance report. Even so, that was nearly $10,000 less than what DiSalvo spent on publicity from Oct. 14-30.

Yet, DiSalvo was not accustomed to being on the receiving end of such public criticism in the previous races that he dominated. His first election win was propped up by 79.2% of the vote in 2010, he ran unopposed in 2014, and won another landslide election with 78.5% in his favor in 2018.

This race was bitter from the onset, with Buglione’s campaign characterizing DiSalvo as a controlling sheriff who acted as if he were above reproach. Critics also blasted DiSalvo for the company he keeps and the gifts he receives — in other words, the sheriff’s friendship with Lance Armstrong, who DiSalvo said gave him a 5% ownership stake in the upstart Lift Vodka. It was a handshake deal with no paperwork, and DiSalvo said he didn’t violate cross any ethical lines over receiving gifts because he and Armstrong are friends.

Ex-employees also criticized DiSalvo for his management style and leadership skills, saying he acted above reproach and could treat his staff harshly and unfairly.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

UPDATE: Dylan Roberts wins Senate District 8 seat, Matt Solomon concedes the race

9:30 a.m. UPDATE: After a long campaign that saw six debates and a seemingly endless stream of mailers, Democrat Dylan Roberts claimed victory Wednesday morning over Republican Matt Solomon in the race for the Colorado State Senate District 8 seat.

Roberts leads Matt Solomon by nearly 8,416 votes as of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Roberts had 39,749 votes to Solomon’s 31,333 votes in the race. Results remain unofficial until the election is certified at a later date.

The Roberts campaign said Solomon had conceded the race Wednesday morning.

“Now, the real work begins,” Roberts said in a statement. “I am thrilled to get to work on drafting legislation that reflects the voters’ priorities that I heard on the campaign trail and work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue finding solutions that will make the region more affordable, protect our water and environment, and make our rural and mountain towns even better places to live, work, and thrive. Thank you to the voters for their support and confidence.”

Roberts, at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, said he wanted to wait until every vote was counted before celebrating a victory, but said he was pleased with the results he saw.

“It was a long, campaign, many miles on the road and meeting lots of people,” Roberts said.

Senate District 8 is currently represented by Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, but the newly redrawn Colorado Senate District Map puts Rankin’s hometown of Carbondale in Senate District 5. Eagle County, where Roberts lives, and Routt County, where he grew up, will both be in Senate District 8 when the new map takes effect following Tuesday’s election. Rankin will move to Senate District 5.

District 8 still includes the unincorporated portions of Garfield County north of Interstate 70.

Roberts has served two terms in the state legislature as the representative for House District 26, but the race marks his first general election campaign in four years as he went unchallenged in 2020.

Roberts said in getting to know the voters of Senate District 8, he will look at his time in the state Senate, if the results hold in his favor, as a fresh start.

“Senate District 8 is very different from House District 26,” Roberts said on Tuesday. “So if I do end up serving in the Senate, I’ll have the legislative experience, but I’ll have to end up focusing on different issues and a broader portfolio of ideas.”

Matt Solomon
Matt-Solomon

Solomon, a former member of the Eagle Town Council, was seeking his first term as an elected official in the state legislature.

Roberts was appointed to the state house in 2017 when Diane Mitch-Busch vacated her seat to focus on her campaign for Congress.

Roberts was then challenged for the seat in 2018 by Republican Nicki Mills, who he defeated handily. He went unchallenged in 2020.

In 2022, following a redrawing of the state Senate district lines to include Avon in Senate District 8, the 33-year-old announced an intention to run in that district, as he lives in Avon.

Roberts said he was suited particularly well to understand the needs of the new district as he was born in the former Senate District 8, in Steamboat Springs, and now lives in the newly incorporated part of the district in Avon.

“The Senate is different than the House, there are smaller margins and it will force more bipartisanship,” Roberts said.

Buglione holds lead over DiSalvo in PitCo sheriff’s race that’s too close to call

The race for Pitkin County sheriff was too close to call as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, when the upset-minded challenger Michael Buglione held a 292-vote lead over incumbent Joe DiSalvo.

Buglione’s 3,416 votes amounted to 52.23%; DiSalvo had garnered 3,124 votes, or 47.77%.

The final results, regardless of the outcome, will mark the closest contest yet for DiSalvo, who was pitted against his former brother-in-law and law-enforcement colleague. Buglione left the sheriff’s department led by DiSalvo in 2019 after they had a falling out over a missed assignment by Buglione.

“I think that Joe finally has a viable candidate that can beat him,” Buglione said around 10:30 p.m. with the final results undetermined. His response was to a question about what made his challenge more formidable than the previous two against DiSalvo. “He’s never had to worry in the past, and I think that I am the challenger that can do a better job than Joe.”

Buglione’s campaign was fueled by endorsements from two judges, support from former Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office employees, the backing of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, and a heavy dose of criticism toward DiSalvo.

Buglione said that if his lead sticks, “I think that the people of Pitkin County will be happy with their new sheriff. I haven’t wavered from my positions since my March 4 announcement (to run for sheriff) about mental health, substance abuse, housing deputies. And, we don’t need a new jail.”

DiSalvo did not respond to messages seeking comment. Previously, he said Buglione was running a smear campaign based on lies and frustrations levied by former employees who didn’t meet the sheriff’s professional standards.

DiSalvo ran on his record as a three-term sheriff who ran an efficient department that he was modernizing with the times. He also enjoyed the support of his mentor and friend Bob Braudis, the immensely popular former Pitkin County sheriff who died June 3. He also received endorsements from Aspen Mayor Torre and City Council members John Doyle and Skippy Mesirow.

But, there were endorsements DiSalvo did not receive that stood out, such as one from Anita Thompson, the widow of maverick journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who hung out with Braudis over the years. She revealed her support for Buglione in a recent Facebook post.

Despite the criticism, the sheriff’s campaign war chest was considerably fuller than Buglione’s.

Starting Oct. 14, DiSalvo reported having $32,605 cash in hand for the cycle ending Oct. 30, according to a campaign finance report. The same report said he spent $17,144 on advertising, marketing, and publicity from Oct. 14 through Oct. 30, leaving him with another $16,311 to spend down the final stretch. He also reported raising $850 in contributions during from Oct. 14-30.

Buglione had $5,043 cash in hand starting Oct. 14, but $3,864 in contributions during the cycle ending Oct. 30 helped fuel an advertising campaign where he spent $6,457 during that period, according to a campaign finance report. Even so, that was nearly $10,000 less than what DiSalvo spent on publicity from Oct. 14-30.

Yet, DiSalvo was not accustomed to being on the receiving end of such public criticism in the previous races that he dominated. His first election win was propped up by 79.2% of the vote in 2010, he ran unopposed in 2014, and won another landslide election with 78.5% in his favor in 2018.

This race was bitter from the onset, with Buglione’s campaign characterizing DiSalvo as a controlling sheriff who acted as if he were above reproach. Critics also blasted DiSalvo for the company he keeps and the gifts he receives — in other words, the sheriff’s friendship with Lance Armstrong, who DiSalvo said gave him a 5% ownership stake in the upstart Lift Vodka. It was a handshake deal with no paperwork, and DiSalvo said he didn’t violate cross any ethical lines over receiving gifts because he and Armstrong are friends.

Ex-employees also criticized DiSalvo for his management style and leadership skills, saying he acted above reproach and could treat his staff harshly and unfairly.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Jankovsky surpasses Gordon by 44 votes in race for Garfield County Commissioner, too close to call

Republican incumbent Tom Jankovsky claimed the late lead in his race for reelection to the Garfield County Commission District 1 seat over Democrat Ryan Gordon late Tuesday night, but the race remained too close to call as of press time.

As of the latest update at 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, Jankovsky had 10,720 votes to Gordon’s 10,676, for a razor-thin 50.1% to 49.9% margin.

“It’s clear it’s going to be real close,” Jankovsky said just before midnight. “We’re waiting to hear how many ballots there are still to count. We just won’t know until tomorrow.”

The race closely mirrored the 2020 race between Republican District 2 Commissioner John Martin and Democratic challenger Beatriz Soto, when Soto had the lead based on early returns, and Martin ultimately surpassed her as the more-conservative Election Day votes came in. Martin ultimately won by 501 votes.

“It’s exciting that it’s this close, and I’m happy to see as many people vote as did in Garfield County,” Gordon said. “Every vote is going to be counted, so we’ll see how it comes out.”

The third batch of returns brought the number of counted ballots in Garfield County up to nearly 21,400, out of 36,844 total ballots sent out to voters for this election. 

Democratic Garfield County Commissioner District 1 candidate Ryan Gordon looks at the second round of numbers on a camputer at the Democratic watch party at the Bluebird Cafe on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico said Monday that she was anticipating a 65% turnout for this fall’s election, which would equate to about 24,000 ballots cast.

In other contested county races, the Republican candidates appeared headed toward election to the offices of Clerk and Recorder and Treasurer.

As of the latest report, incumbent Treasurer Carrie Couey had 10,734 votes to Democratic challenger Aron Diaz’s 10,223 votes.

Republican Garfield County Treasurer candidate Carrie Couey interacts with friends at the Garfield County Republicans watch party at the Hotel Colorado on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

And, in the open race to replace Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico, who is retiring after this year, Republican clerk’s office worker Jackie Harmon had 10,818 votes and Democrat Becky Moller had 10,135 votes, according to the unofficial preliminary results, with some ballot still to be counted. 

Democratic Garfield County Clerk and Recorder candidate Becky Moller interacts with people at the Democratic watch party at the Bluebird Cafe on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent
Democratic Garfield County Treasurer candidate Aron Diaz interacts with people at the Democratic watch party at the Bluebird Cafe on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Kury glides toward second term as Pitkin County Commissioner

It looks like Kelly McNicholas Kury will serve another term on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners.

Running for re-election as a Democrat, she held a commanding lead in Tuesday’s election over challenger Erin Smiddy, who has no party affiliation. With just over 50% of the ballots counted as of 9:40 p.m., Kury had received 4,182 votes to Smiddy’s 1,863 votes.

Kury ran unopposed in 2018 but still campaigned and introduced herself to voters back then. This time with Smiddy challenging her, Kury estimated she knocked on 3,000 doors in the county.

“I think I worked really hard,” she said of her re-election. “I think I connected all over the county and have built relationships in our municipalities and in unincorporated parts of Pitkin County.”

As a second-term commissioner come January, she will join Patti Clapper, who ran unopposed and also was re-elected Tuesday, along with Steve Child, Francie Jacober, and Greg Poschman.

There wasn’t much of a learning curve for Kury when she joined the BOCC, and, in 2019, she led the effort to help county-employed parents with newborns by giving them 12 weeks of paid leave. In the spring of 2020, she was aiding the county grapple with the global coronavirus pandemic, helping it get $8 million in relief funding.

Her campaign touched on issues such as revamping the county land-use code to align with its climate goals and working with the Airport Vision committee as it entertains an expansion that could include a new terminal and runway. She she was the lone BOCC member to vote against Aspen Skiing Co.’s expansion of Pandora’s and was part of the commission that approved solar farms in Woody Creek.

She also has advocated for preserving the Crystal River by earning it wild and scenic river designation, which also would keep the water local and not diverted out of state.

“That will be starting in January,” she said. “It’s been a really great conversation bringing these people together and I’m looking forward to it.”

Kury also has taken progressive positions on worker housing, saying she would like to see a program for “right-sizing” homes for individuals and families. Her campaign also focused on her experience, work ethic, and tenacity.

“I want to thank Erin,” Kury said. “I think competition is better for the community, and she caused me to be a better candidate and be more thoughtful.”

Smiddy ran on a platform of having endured the challenges of being a working local. She moved here when was 6 years old and has been in the area mostly ever since, having been a deputy and former chair of Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

“I’m not surprised,” she said of Kury’s apparent victory. “I knew running as an independent in Pitkin County is a risky thing, but it was worth a shot, and I hope we got the message out as far as regular citizens are concerned.”

She said she hopes the BOCC “gets more serious” about addressing the worker-housing crisis.

Kury and Smiddy showed mutual respect at candidate forums. Issues like child care, housing, and working locals was a focus of their campaigns as well.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Democrat Jared Polis wins second term as Colorado governor

DENVER (AP) — Democrat Jared Polis handily won a second term as Colorado’s governor Tuesday, fending off a spirited challenge from Republican Heidi Ganahl, a business entrepreneur who was seeking to become the state’s first GOP governor since 2007.

Polis, a wealthy tech entrepreneur who’s largely self-funded his campaign, insisted that Colorado quickly emerged from the coronavirus shutdown poised for strong economic growth. He championed first-term successes in health care affordability, fully-funded kindergarten and preschool, and vowed to continue his relentless pursuit to move Colorado’s electrical grid to renewable energy by 2040.

President Joe Biden called Polis on Tuesday evening to congratulate him on his victory, and, at a Democratic watch party at a Denver hotel, the governor thanked Ganahl and extended good will to those who voted against him.

“Whether you voted for me or not, I will work as hard as I possibly can on behalf of you and your family,” Polis said as his supporters hooted and hollered, brandishing signs reading, “Strong Steady Proven.”

During the campaign, Ganahl tried pinning the blame on Polis for inflation, surging crime, underperforming schools, and opioid overdose rates affecting youth. She insisted she’d eliminate the state income tax and ask voters to reconsider a law signed by Polis enshrining the right to abortion into state law. She is a University of Colorado regent.

She campaigned on the slogan “#MadMom” as she tried painting an ominous portrait of the state. Polis countered by calling himself a “happy dad” of two kids who he is raising in what he called “the best state of all the states.”

About seven in 10 Colorado voters say things in the country are heading in the wrong direction, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 2,700 voters in the state.

About three-quarters of voters say the condition of the economy is either not so good or poor, the survey found, compared with about a quarter who call it excellent or good. About a third say their family is falling behind financially.

The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, also played a role in most voters’ decisions, with about eight in 10 calling it a factor in how they cast their ballot. About a quarter call the court’s overturning of Roe the single most important factor in their vote.

Courtney Danis, a 20-year-old psychology student, said the main reason she voted for Polis is to protect abortion rights for all women — even though she long opposed abortion on a personal level. Citing the Supreme Court’s Roe decision, she said: “I realized things can happen to people without them choosing it … and it’s important to at least have a choice in (having an abortion).”

During the campaign Polis criticized Ganahl for appointing a running mate who has claimed that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president in 2020.

A majority of Colorado voters — about three-quarters — say they are confident that ballots will be counted accurately, according to the poll, though about two in 10 say they are either not too confident or not at all confident.

___

Associated Press writers Sarah Rankin in Washington, D.C., and Jesse Bedayn in Arvada contributed to this report.