UPDATE: Day 2 is not looking much better than Day 1.
— American Bridge 21st Century (@American_Bridge) September 15, 2021
Republican Heidi Ganahl finally announced on Tuesday that she is running for Governor in 2022. It may not have been the worst kickoff for a statewide campaign in Colorado history, but only because there really aren’t good records for that sort of thing. We can definitively say, however, that Ganahl’s campaign launch was the worst we’ve seen in Colorado this century.
It was that bad.
Colorado has seen a few rocky campaign starts in recent memory, including Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Cary Kennedy’s cringeworthy Facebook Live moment in 2017 that featured the candidate driving around her neighborhood before pulling into her driveway for the big reveal. But whereas Kennedy’s official announcement was a creative idea that just didn’t work, Ganahl’s launch was a daylong massacre punctuated by one of the worst sit-down interviews we can recall from a Colorado politician.
Ganahl stumbled last week in teasing her campaign launch, first telling reporters that there would be some sort of announcement followed a day later by her campaign inexplicably filing the paperwork to make her candidacy official — thus ruining any last bit of suspense. Her first campaign event on Tuesday was held at Rosie’s Diner in Monument (at 8:00 in the morning), which is an auspicious location that still carries bad juju from former Sen. Cory Gardner’s much-maligned 2020 TV advertisement.
Soon afterward, Ganahl faceplanted in front of a handful of reporters by refusing to answer questions that any rookie campaign staffer should have easily anticipated. It was a foreboding start to a rough day for Ganahl.
“I’ll try and win no matter what the path forward is. Whatever my party decides is the path forward…We’ve got a long road ahead.”
— Heidi Ganahl’s inspiring words Tuesday, as quoted by The Colorado Sun
After leaving Monument, Ganahl’s campaign continued on a Front Range tour that somebody apparently forgot to prep outside of these weird “Meat Heidi” signs. From what we hear, Ganahl made a stop at a Camp Bow Wow location in Centennial that was attended by plenty of dogs but no human beings. This is particularly strange when you consider that Ganahl lives in nearby Lone Tree; you’d think her campaign could have wrangled a few neighbors to show up in Centennial.
Things already weren’t going well for Ganahl by the time she rolled into Westminster and sat down for a completely disastrous interview with Marshall Zelinger of 9News. You really need to watch the entire four minute conversation to truly appreciate just how terrible this was for Ganahl, but here are some of the lowlights:
♦ Ganahl was asked about the fact that she deleted a big chunk of her social media history just last week. She responded by saying that it is her “policy as a businessperson” to nuke her social media posts once every six months or so (yeah, right). When Zelinger asked why, she replied, “I don’t think that’s important.” D’oh!
♦ Zelinger then asked Ganahl the same question she had botched earlier with reporters from The Denver Post and elsewhere: Do you think there was fraud in the 2020 election?
Ganahl’s response: “Why all the divisive questions?”
When Zelinger pushed her for an answer on what is — again — a very obvious question, Ganahl barfed this out: “Oh my goodness, Marshall. Let’s talk about what’s important to the people of Colorado. And that’s kids, it’s skyrocketing crime. I just said that kids are killing themselves at record rates and we want to talk about other things that aren’t that important to many people.”
Seriously, that was her answer. Word for word.
♦ Later, Ganahl was tossed a softball about incumbent Gov. Jared Polis, which she used as an opening to complain about how Colorado handled contact tracing in late 2020 that coincided with an increase in deaths at nursing homes. Zelinger followed up Ganahl via email to ask what she would have done differently had she been in charge, and she responded, “Everything.” Ganahl had time to think about this answer, and she still only came up with “Everything.”
An optimist would say that everything will be downhill from here — that Ganahl can’t possibly be any worse than she was on Tuesday. A realist would note that Ganahl has been prepping a run for governor for at least a year now; if this is what happens when Ganahl and her campaign have time to prepare, we can only imagine how rough things will get when Team Ganahl has to think on its feet.
As we’ve seen from polling data, Ganahl wasn’t likely to beat Polis next year no matter how her campaign got off the ground, but nothing that starts this poorly is likely to end well.