Heidi Ganahl Just Lost Whatever She’s Running For

CU Regent at-large Heidi Ganahl (R).

As the Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez reports, the exit agreement for controversial outgoing President of the University of Colorado, former GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy, was approved this morning by an 8-1 bipartisan vote of the CU Board of Regents:

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy will receive a $1.3 million lump-sum payment when he departs his role as leader of the four-campus university system by July 1, according to an agreement approved by the CU Board of Regents on Wednesday.

The agreement outlining the details of Kennedy’s departure from the university presidency after two years on the job passed on an 8-1 vote, with Regent Heidi Ganahl, an at-large Republican, voting against the deal.

It’s a generous golden parachute for a university president who only got the job two years ago, but it could be a major turning point in the controversy over “conservative affirmative action” that has been raging at the school since the appointment of Kennedy’s predecessor Bruce Benson a decade before. Even as the state’s politics have shifted leftward in recent years, Republican control of the CU Board of Regents allowed for the university to become a haven for ideological conservatives through the school’s privately funded Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization. A succession of highly controversial “visiting conservative scholars” culminated in John Eastman, who while employed by the Benson Center helped incite violence in Washington, D.C. on January 6th.

In her statement explaining being the only “no” vote against Kennedy’s departure deal, Regent at-large Heidi Ganahl, who is increasingly mentioned as a GOP candidate for higher office in 2022 as the state’s only remaining statewide Republican elected official, made it stunningly clear where she stands: with John Eastman and Mark Kennedy.

Ganahl said: “I don’t think we should trouble ourselves with the illusion that Mark Kennedy’s firing was a great failing or fundamental error in leadership. Mark Kennedy is being fired for the high crime of not being a Democrat or left-wing academic to a new board majority who many days forget they serve the students of CU and not the (Democratic National Committee). In this case, their need to grind partisan axes will cost taxpayers and students millions of dollars.”

This statement was a major mistake for Ganahl, essentially putting her on the hook for the entire years-long partisan political train wreck at CU–at least as far back as Ganahl’s own narrow election in 2016 on a platform of making the school a safe space for conservatives. Her 8-1 grandstand vote is the clearest sign we’ve seen yet that Ganahl is making every move with an eye toward a run for higher office in 2022. The problem is, she’s grandstanding on her own defeat, and willingly positioning herself on the opposite side of a large majority of Colorado voters.

It’s a statement that will make a few GOP donors and primary voters happy.

But then the failed Republican transformation of CU into a “conservative affirmative action” safe space, which ended in unprecedented disaster with CU employee John Eastman cheering on the insurrectionists on January 6th, will sink Heidi Ganahl in whatever general election she winds up in.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:


    And if this is the best they've got, 2022 is looking good for Colorado Dems.

  2. Early Worm says:

    The conundrum – In order to get any nomination in the Trumpublican party, you have to be a hard-core culture warrior, speaking out against Democrats' radical agenda.  In order to win in a statewide election in Colorado, you can't be a hard-core culture warrior, and you definitely do not want to be tied to Trump. 

    Through gerrymandering and voter suppression, the Republicans may do alright in 2022, but longer-term, Trump is hollowing out the party like a nasty parasite. 

  3. davebarnes says:

    Given that only 3 people in the entire state care about this, I don't see how it hurts her.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      I don't agree at all. Lots of people are watching this.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      I’m not certain the Kennedy hiring, “resignation,” and lovely parting gifts decisions will be crucial in an election, though it certainly could be considered outrageous — after all, it sounds as if it sticks to the terms of the initial contract.

      Kennedy’s contract terms began with an 80% increase over the previous President’s pay, with $200,000 potential “bonuses” for various tasks that would take compensation up to $850,000 (MORE than a 100% increase).  After his first year, the salary rose to $850,000. His contract extends through 2022.  It also included various other goodies such as “10% of his salary each year contributed to his personal retirement plan.” The contract also specified “If the regents voted to fire Kennedy without cause, CU would owe him his base salary for any time remaining on his contract, which runs through June 2022, minus any pay he would receive in a new position during that time.”

      So, he’s working 2 years of a 3-year contract, and walking out with approximately $3 million from CU (minus whatever he may get at another job before June 2022) for the 2 years of work. 

      What SHOULD be disqualifying was Kennedy’s selection over others leaked as finalists.  At htat time, Kennedy was an out of office US Rep (10 years prior) who lost a Senate race, a 3 year position at Accenture, and 3 academic jobs — the last being President at U of North Dakota [enrollment ~15,000, budget something like 1/10th of U of colorado system’s]. “Among the candidates who were rejected by the regents: former Gov. Bill Ritter, former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, former Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, the president of No. 10-ranked Penn State University, the former chancellor of No. 37-ranked Texas A&M, the chancellor of No. 36-ranked Rutgers University and the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force.”

  4. You guys are really reaching on this one – lol. 

    Polis is family to me, so I’ll be supporting the Governor – but I love Heidi. She’s a damn good candidate. She has a chance to revive and reestablish a gop presence in Colorado. 

    I really hope she stays positive and doesn’t go negative. Her best path is to run a solid campaign in 2022, with zero muddy attack. I don’t think she’ll win – but an inclusive, fiscal conservative campaign in 2022 plants the seeds, and then wins the governorship in 2026 (and I’ll be supporting her then). 

    Let’s not forget that Colorado continually votes to uphold TABOR. For all the talk of Colorado being blue, it definitely wants to maintain its fiscal conservatism. GOPers fail to capitalize on that usually because were incapable of articulating the issue – in Stapleton’s case, he went far too negative – he’s a good man, but the mud didn’t reflect well, especially since he had won 2 statewide races before without going negative; it was his finest quality. Glenn (senate campaign against Bennett) was also a damn good candidate, but ran with too much bigotry.

    A fiscal conservative, who is not negative, and does not speak with bias against minorities, can win Colorado. Heidi has those qualities. 

    With that – if Heidi’s team is reading – be cautious. Don’t hire the same GOP consultants that tanker Glenn and Stapleton’s campaigns due to negativity. 

    • unnamed says:

      And yet she said through the Trump era and the height of bias against minorities that they were on the right side of history.

    • The realist says:

      The reason people like Boebert get elected is that R's vote for R's, no matter what – cf. Randy Baumgardner. It's the folks in the middle – or a significant portion of them – who can be persuaded either way. Statewide races are becoming bluer and bluer. Whatever Ganahl runs for, the Dems will have an excellent candidate opposing her. 

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      I’m fairly confident that as long as the GOP continues to stamp out more “good men” candidates in the mold of Glenn and Stapleton and Bruce (and Ganahl), Colorado will remain safely blue . . .

      . . . and Colorado rarely “upholds” Tabor anymore. DeBrucing is a common as table salt — even in red jurisdictions. (There hasn’t been an actual vote on “Tabor” because the asshole wrote the foolishness so that it pretty much can’t be undone in a vote.) But as more are more locales do DeBruce, Dougie’s abode and his legacy is more and more deep in the outhouse dungpit he dug.

    • NOV GOP meltdown says:

      " Fiscal conservatism".  Good luck polishing that turd !

      • Genghis says:

        Yep, that right there is the hoariest of chestnuts. "Fiscal conservatism" exists only when someone proposes using public money to benefit real live human beings. Massive deficit spending is our friend when public money flows directly into the coffers of the uber-rich.

  5. DaCashman says:

    I like how she talks about "Democrats" and "CU students" in two different lights, even though >70% of CU is Democrats, and most of the Republicans are either libertarian or New England liberal Republicans. Only 1/8th of the faculty is Republican. It's another example of Republicans talking about Democrats as something other than legitimate members of society. They're not "real Americans" in the minds of fascists like Ganahl. The fact GOP insiders are dumb enough to think she's moderate just because she's female either shows how sexist, how radical, or both the GOP establishment has become.

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