The three Republican candidates for Governor got together for a candidate forum in Douglas County on Tuesday. You know what that means – it’s time for another Debate Diary!!!
On Tuesday, March 8,
Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, Greg Lopez, and Danielle Neuschwanger took center stage at The Lone Tree Hub for a candidate forum moderated by former State Sen. Bill Cadman and right-wing chucklehead Jon Caldara. You can watch the entire forum here, or keep reading for our blow-by-blow coverage of the event.
With only three candidates, this GOP debate wasn’t nearly as long as the Senate candidate forums we’ve seen earlier this year (click HERE and HERE to read those). But what this event lacked in length it more than made up for in sheer inanity.
Ganahl demonstrated an unmistakable lack of personality coupled with a minimal amount of substance; if you watched this forum without any prior knowledge of the candidates, it would not have been obvious that Ganahl is supposed to be the GOP frontrunner. She was by far the most aggressive in attacking the other two candidates, which is also a weird look for someone who is supposed to be carrying the “frontrunner” banner.
Neuschwanger was the most interesting and memorable of the candidates, but she is also undoubtedly a few sandwiches short of a picnic. For instance, Neuschwanger repeatedly promised to fire the entire State of Colorado workforce on her first day in office.
As for Greg Lopez…he was Greg Lopez.
Anyway, let’s get to it…
NOTE: What follows is a chronological re-hash of Tuesday’s debate. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time and/or the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome.
00:00: Cadman and Caldara seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves and their roles as co-moderators. After introductions and a reciting of the rules, we get things started with three-minute opening statements. Greg Lopez is up first.
3:05: Power belongs to the people, not the bureaucrats, says Lopez. Yup, it’s going to be THAT kind of night.
Lopez then gets everybody off on the wrong foot with this strange statement: “You know, Governor Polis continually shows us what happens when we elect someone who lacks both character and governing experience.”
Governing experience? Prior to being elected Governor in 2018, Polis served on the State Board of Education and then five terms as a Member of Congress from CO-02.
Lopez is a former Democrat who served one term as Mayor of the town of Parker in the early nineties, well before the population boom that turned Parker into the sprawling metro area that it is today. Lopez ran for Governor as a Republican in 2018 and finished a distant third in the GOP Primary Election; he launched his 2022 campaign for Governor in August 2019. Lopez has been a candidate for office longer than he has served in any capacity as an elected official.
Ganahl was elected to the University of Colorado Board of Regents in 2016. This is the bulk of her “governing experience.”
Neuschwanger is a realtor and self-described rancher who has never run for public office before.
In other words, Lopez should probably stop talking about “experience,” but that’s not in the plan.
“To save our state, the next governor must understand what it means to govern in a representative government,” says Lopez. “We need experience. We need to connect with the hearts and minds of all voters and take away the ability of the elites to dictate our way of life.
“For three years I have been visiting with both Unaffiliated voters and Democrat voters across the state and winning their hearts and minds, and getting their respect and their votes.
“We want someone that has firsthand experience dealing with statewide issues. Creating jobs, transportation, water, air quality…you know, disasters, and dealing with affordable housing.”
Lopez concludes by saying “This election is about making Colorado Colorado again.” Okie-dokie.
5:45: Danielle Neuschwanger takes the microphone.
“If you’re like me, you’re tired of elitist career politicians who petition to get onto the ballot with their bank account instead of working hard for ‘we the people,’” she says. “I believe that right now in America we need American patriots to stand up and defend the United States Constitution.”
If you like mindless political platitudes, then this forum is going to be right up your alley.
“Much like you, I’m here tonight because I don’t like what’s going on in America. I didn’t like the attack on my ranch, I didn’t like having my business being told it was essential, and I definitely didn’t like being told that I had to mask and muzzle my kids in order for them to get a less-than-average public education.” Neuschwanger does not elaborate on how or why her “ranch” was “attacked.”
She says she spent 10 years traveling the country teaching first responders “how to verbally de-escalate aggressive and violent situations,” then gets even more vague. “I ran active shooter drills, mass casualty incidents, and I took over mergers and acquisitions on multi-billion dollar contracts.”
Oh, and by the way, I did mergers and acquisitions for multi-billion dollar companies. What?
“We have a public education institution that is not only failing our kids, but is pushing radical indoctrination of the progressive left,” she continues. Neuschwanger says the oil and gas industry and the agriculture industry in Colorado are under attack. Maybe this was past of the same attack on her “ranch.”
Neuschwanger concludes with a very Trumpian statement:
“And when I look to see who is going to stand up and stop this, there is only one answer for me: I will.”
8:30: Heidi Ganahl, you’re up…
“I am a mom on a mission to win back Colorado,” she begins. “I’m married to one of the top barbecue guys in Colorado, Jason back there.” Ganahl indicates that Jason is in fact sitting in the audience somewhere. This is a weird way to start things off.
“As your governor, and the daughter of a police officer, I will crack down on crime, and I will stop us being a sanctuary state and stop the flow of fentanyl across the border.” She really shoehorned that “daughter of a police officer” thing into that sentence.
Ganahl blathers about reducing taxes and fees, then moves on to vouchers. “I will give power back to parents and fund the student, not the system, and get rid of the nonsense in our classrooms.”
Ganahl says that Jared Polis is an out-of-touch failure as a governor, then she moves to check off the next item on her punch list. “I will protect the second amendment,” she says. “As the daughter of a police officer I learned how to shoot as a kid, and I understand how important that is to us right now as a country.”
ICYMI, Heidi Ganahl’s dad was a police officer.
“And I will protect the unborn. And what’s happening right now in the legislature is abhorrent. It has to stop.” We assume Ganahl is talking about the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), but she doesn’t clarify. “If that bill comes to my desk I will do one thing with it…” Ganahl then tears a sheet of paper in half; it’s not nearly as dramatic as she thought it would be. “It’s disgusting, and it will not happen on my watch as governor.”
Now it’s back to platitudes: “I will be a law and order girl and the only thing that I will mandate as governor is freedom.” This generates a polite smattering of applause.
“And while I respect and like the other candidates, there are stark differences between us,” says Ganahl, already going after her GOP opponents. “I am the only Republican who has won statewide office in almost 8 years.” This is true. It’s also a pretty sad thing to say out loud if you are a Republican.
“I’m a proven, strong leader that holds the line at the most liberal place in Colorado, CU in Boulder,” Ganahl concludes. “I run a $5 billion organization at CU and I can lead our state forward.”
Whoa…that’s one hell of an exaggeration. Ganahl does not “run” the University of Colorado. She is one of nine members of the CU Board of Regents.
11:55: Before he asks the first question of the night, Jon Caldara tries a joke.
“The only real problem Republicans have, of course, is a real lack of diversity,” Caldara deadpans. “If only we had some chicks or a Latino guy running for governor.”
If only we had some chicks. Unreal.
Now that we’ve gotten the sexism out of the way, here’s the first question: How do you compete financially with Jared Polis when he can self-fund his campaign?
Ganahl answers first. She says she has “an incredible team made up of some of the best folks in Colorado.” Says also notes that she “brought some of Glenn Youngkin’s team from Virginia,” which has nothing to do with the question.
Then Ganahl takes another shot at Lopez and Neuschwanger:
“I believe I have outraised my opponents by about 10 times at this point,” she says. “I know how to fundraise. I’ve done it on ballot initiatives, I’ve done it for my businesses. I will raise the millions and millions of dollars that we have got to raise to build a movement to beat Jared Polis.”
Ganahl has indeed outraised both Lopez and Neuschwanger, which is sort of like bragging that you are taller than a fourth-grader. Her overall fundraising has not been good, however; Ganahl had less cash on hand at the beginning of 2022 than any major Republican candidate in the last decade.
Lopez answers next and doesn’t address Ganahl’s barb. “Nobody is going to outspend the Governor, so you have to outwork him,” he says. Then he explains his theory about how it’s going to rain money in July.
“When I win the nomination, this election is going to be a national election because you’re going to have the first openly-declared gay governor looking for re-election against a Hispanic Republican. There will be money coming into the State of Colorado to see what the State of Colorado does with that particular race.”
No, Greg. Just…no.
14:30: Neuschwanger repeats Lopez’s point that none of them will outspend Polis. She insists that “the race is not about money, it’s about strategy.” All three Republican candidates had better hope like hell that this is true.
“Currently I am the fastest-growing candidate in Colorado for the least amount of money,” says Neuschwanger. She does not explain what she means by “fastest growing.” Neuschwanger then says that she is “using social media because the largest voting pool in Colorado are millennials, who spend 6-8 hours a day on social media.”
Neuschwanger is very impressed with herself. She is beaming like she just revealed the location of Bigfoot.
And then, she takes her first shot at Ganahl:
“I am also the top-polling governor candidate in Colorado right now. We don’t need money. You need a strategy that can win, and I’ve got it.”
Neuschwanger is obviously referring to recent poll results from the Rocky Mountaineer, a collaboration between ProgressNow Colorado and Global Strategy Group showing that Neuschwanger performs slightly better than Ganahl in a head-to-head matchup with Polis.
15:40: Now it’s time for a question from Bill Cadman, who claims that Democrats ran a bill in the 2021 legislative session to create “free crime zones” at schools so that you could commit any crime at a school and not get arrested for it. What in the hell is he talking about?
Cadman’s question is this: How will you talk to voters about crime?
16:50: Lopez says he asks people in the “urban corridor” if they feel safe, and they say no, and they say it’s because Polis doesn’t care about them.
“As a former mayor I understand all the ins and outs of how you build safe communities within your jurisdiction,” says Lopez. Again, Lopez was the Mayor of the Town of Parker for one term in the early 1990s.
Lopez really lays it on thick before he concludes his answer. He says that people tell him, “I live in fear every single day.” In Colorado? In 2022? What?
18:00: Neuschwanger is the first candidate to get into specifics, albeit completely inaccurate specifics. “HB1263 forever changed the landscape of law enforcement by legalizing the personal possession of fentanyl, methamphetamines, and other hardcore drugs.”
“We have an attack on our law enforcement in Colorado, and the best way to get around it is to re-fund the police and teach people how to respect authority again,” says Neuschwanger ominously. Then she talks about how when she was growing up they had the DARE program in schools. Neuschwanger might be the first candidate in the history of Colorado to cite the “DARE” program as a success.
19:10: Ganahl is frothing to answer this question because she loves nothing more than blaming Polis for any and all crime. “I was a member of the governor’s school safety and crisis committee under Gov. Hickenlooper,” she says, as though this means anything to anyone.
“On crime, the number one thing we can do on day one is fire the parole board. They’re terrible. They’re soft on crime. They’re deliberately trying to empty our prisons.”
That’s some thick rhetoric, and there’s plenty more.
“Most of Polis’ dirty work is done on his boards and commissions, so we have to go after those boards and commissions and roll back as many executive orders as we can.” We’re probably supposed to forget that Ganahl just mentioned that she served on one of these very boards and commissions under Gov. Hickenlooper.
“We need to fire the parole board, we need to get rid of personal recognizance bonds that let criminals go free on the streets within 24 hours of committing a crime,” says Ganahl. “We’ve got to protect truth in sentencing, so if someone gets sentenced to jail for 10 years they stay in jail for 10 years.
In other words, if you even get ACCUSED of committing a crime, Ganahl wants to toss you in the clink. Ganahl claims to be a big supporter of the First and Second Amendments. She is apparently much less enthusiastic about the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.
20:30: Time for a new topic. Caldara says the Colorado media has been too forgiving of elected officials and are cheerleaders for Polis. “How will you handle that?”
Neuschwanger says this: “I think it’s pretty fair to assume that the mockingbird media is not going to give any one of us a good shake. In fact, I’m seeing this in my own race where I’m being quoted by saying things that they’re cutting and splicing to fit a narrative that works for them.” Yes, indeed, the media is out to get Danielle Neuschwanger!
“This is not the first time we’ve seen this,” she continues. “This type of propaganda was used in WWII. It’s historical because it works.”
At least she didn’t use the word “Nazi,” but that’s where she’s going here. Also, “it’s historical because it works”? What in the hell does that mean?
Neuschwanger concludes by saying the Colorado Democratic Party is running an ad about her on Twitter “calling her names like ‘conspiracy theorist.’” Sure. Whatever.
22:15: Ganahl is equally concerned that the media treats her unfairly, but she has a plan, or something.
“So one thing I know how to do is market and build a brand,” says Ganahl. “The press is just another challenge, so we have to communicate to the voters in a different way. So I believe what we have to do is make it fun to be a Republican again. We have to have rallies, We have to show up in places where we don’t typically show up. We have to have town halls. We have to listen to the voters wherever they are.”
Heidi Ganahl: The FUN Republican.
Ganahl talks about driving around the state in her RV. “We’re getting around the damn media because they’re terrible – they’re just terrible. We’ve all experienced that. We’re not going to win with them.
“We’ve got to work around it, we’ve got to get around it, we’ve got to build a brand considering that they’re against us.”
Wait, so the media is out to get both Neuschwanger AND Ganahl? That’s rough.
23:30: Lopez agrees that the media is terrible. He says he’s been building a “word of mouth campaign” for the last three years. “They can shut down whatever media they want, but they cannot shut down a word of mouth campaign,” he says. Lopez would be a strong candidate if the year was 1860.
“I’m talking to union leaders. They’re telling me, Greg, it is time for us to understand what the Republicans stand for.” True enough on that point.
“What they’re realizing is that we’re not that different,” he continues. “We really aren’t. We’re not monsters.”
The Colorado Republican Party: We’re Not Monsters.
Here’s Lopez’s big communications plan: “I am going to do this by word of mouth. They [the media] will come to me. I don’t need to go to them, because the media is going to start realizing that there is a voice out there that people are starting to resonate [with] from all parties.”
Good luck with that.
25:00: Cadman talks for a LONG time before finally asking a question about K-12 education and the “war against parental choice.” His question is telling in itself: “How will we lay this at the feet of this administration?”
Note that the question is not, “how do we improve education,” but “how do we blame Democrats for stuff?”
Cadman also says this, which we have no words for: “How come we can’t be known as an academic city or academic state – we have an Olympic city – how come there’s no place in this state that’s known as the academic city only?”
26:45: Ganahl answers first with platitudes about the American dream. Gino Campana would be proud.
“We have got to fix public schools, and the way we do that is with competition,” she says. “You’ve got to fund the student, not the system.”
This is a long-winded way of saying that Ganahl is in favor of school vouchers.
27:50: Your turn, Greg Lopez: “Our educational system is no longer educating our kids. We already lost higher education. Everybody says that when they send their daughter or son to higher education, they come back totally changed. I’m here to tell you that the educational system has now been converted into indoctrination centers. They’re not teaching how to read and write. They’re teaching social issues. They’re teaching CRT – critical race theory. They’re teaching sex education that’s beyond the difference between a boy and a girl.”
“Minority communities are saying, ‘I was not aware that this is what they’re teaching, Greg. Thank you for sharing that with me.’ They’re starting to wake up. That’s how we change the system.”
29:00: Neuschwanger complains that Colorado Reads Act money is being used instead to fund all-day kindergarten.
“What we need to do is completely reform the educational system by doing a school district, post-graduate, economic resource development plan,” she says. “How you fund a school in rural Colorado versus the urban corridor is going to be completely different based on post-graduation economic resources.”
This is what it sounds like when you take a bunch of big words and smash them together into a sentence without worrying about whether it makes any sense at all.
30:20: Ganahl jumps in here and says there is a mental health problem that aligns with recreational marijuana legalization in 2012. It’s not clear why she is saying this or why she is allowed to just blurt out something unrelated to the question, but the forum continues without missing a beat.
31:30: Next question: Did Donald Trump win this election and have it stolen, and will you ask Donald Trump to endorse you in this race?
The crowd gasps in anticipation of the answers to this two-part question.
Lopez answers first and dances around for awhile, saying that “we’ll never know” if the 2020 election was conducted fairly. Eventually he just comes out and says this: “I fully believe that I do believe that President Trump did win the election. And you know what? I am going to ask and seek President Trump’s endorsement.”
We fully believe that Lopez fully believes this.
Neuschwanger takes the crazy a step further: “I believe that Donald Trump was my President in 2016, in 2020, and he will be again in 2024.” Naturally, this generates the biggest reaction yet from the crowd. “So yes, I absolutely would love Donald Trump’s endorsement, support, and wisdom.”
Oh, she’s not done. Neuschwanger goes on to say that she believes there was fraud in the 2021 election, as “documented by Dallas Schroeder” and that Secretary of State Jena Griswold “needs to be in jail, behind bars for the rest of her life for the treason she has committed in Colorado.”
There is no explanation of what any of this means.
Now it’s Ganahl’s turn:
“So, it cracks me up that for four years, the Democrats freaked out, claiming that Trump was not president because of Russia, Russia, Russia, and we are not allowed to ask one single, solitary question about what happened in this latest election.” She’s not off to a good start.
“So, I don’t think you’re asking the right question. I think you’re asking why do so many people feel uncomfortable about the election and how do we restore confidence in the voters of Colorado? So, how we fix this is by mobilizing and being an election judge or a poll watcher all over the state, every single location. And then we’ve got to win, we’ve got to kick Jena Griswold and Jared Polis to the curb, and then we can do some things to make our elections run even smoother. That’s the only way we’re going to get it done. We will win this election in the fall and then we can roll up our sleeves and see how we can make our elections better going forward.”
It does not go unnoticed that Ganahl did not answer the actual question (nor, for that matter, did she explain anything about what she would do differently on election reform).
Caldara reminds Ganahl that “there is one other question there.”
Ganahl does not hesitate: “Yes, I would accept President Trump’s endorsement.”
35:30: Cadman thinks it is high time that everybody listen to him talk for awhile, so he brings up the “office of just transition,” “saving people money on health care,” etc. Basically Cadman wants to make it clear that there are new offices and it makes him very sad.
After about three minutes of rambling – literally – that Cadman thinks is comedy gold, he finally asks the candidates to talk about regulations or other things that they would roll back if elected.
Neuschwanger out-crazies herself: “On day one, I plan on firing everybody. Everybody…”
Let that sink in for a moment.
“The only way we can fix Colorado is to have someone with the gumption and steel spine to get in there on day one and fire everybody and put subject matter experts in charge of the subjects that matter,” she says. We’ll give Neuschwanger credit in one regard: She is good at making complete gibberish sound relatively thoughtful.
39:12: Ganahl jokes that she would ask Caldara to come in and “clean house” for her. “I am a less government kind of girl,” she says. “I think we need to put government in its proper role.”
She mutters something about transparency and “return on investment,” then mentions again that she PERSONALLY OVERSEES a $5 billion budget at the University of Colorado [she does not].
40:30: Lopez says the key as governor is to select a great cabinet, then he complains about non-specific bureaucrats and regulations. “Anything that is under my control as governor, I will put a stop to,” he says.
That’s…a really strange blanket statement.
Lopez finishes by reminding the crowd that the Governor is in charge of the Executive Branch, which is very helpful.
41:42: Out of nowhere, Lopez takes a shot at Neuschwanger: “I’d like to know how you’re going to fire everybody in the state of Colorado on day two and how you plan to govern after that.”
Neuschwanger jokes that she would do that on day one. She says some other words but doesn’t have an actual answer to this question.
42:32: Ganahl jumps in and says the State Patrol is down 30%. Again, it’s not clear why she is saying this now or why she is allowed to just interject a random statement in the middle of a candidate forum, but that’s what’s happening.
43:00: Caldara talks for a long time about voter registration numbers. He mentions something about the state being “pro-gay,” and “pro-abortion,” and “pro-marijuana.” His question is hard to follow, but essentially it is this: How will you talk to Unaffiliated voters about the gays and the abortions and the marijuana?
44:20: “Well, Jon, I’m a mom on a mission,” says Heidi ridiculously. She stammers along about jobs and crime and unaffordability, and concludes by saying that we need to get Colorado energy workers back to work so that we won’t have to see “people being killed in Ukraine.” This is completely nonsensical. It’s also worth noting that Ganahl completely ignored the question.
45:30: Lopez says he talks to people about the future of Colorado and warns about Colorado turning into California, which is probably an innate response programmed into his brain from the 2018 campaign.
If there is a point to his answer, we didn’t catch it.
46:45: “We’re not looking for politicians who are going to come up here and pontificate that they have all of the answers for you,” says Neuschwanger. Maybe she blacked out and forgot where she was for a moment.
“What we the people are looking for is a representative who will service the people,” she continues. “Who will serve at the leisure and pleasure of the people.”
We’d make a joke here, but…nope, we’re not touching this.
48:00: Cadman or Caldara (it’s hard to tell) mentions SB-260. Before we can get to the question, whoever it is has to hear himself talk for a long time. There’s something about HOV lanes and a lot of muttering.
Both moderators seem convinced that everyone is here to listen to THEM. It takes 3 minutes to ask a goddamned question about transportation.
51:15: Lopez answers by talking about high gas prices, for some reason. “We must remind people that this is not about transportation – this is a real attack on the poor and rural Colorado. And that is just wrong.” In short, gas prices are rising because the world hates poor people.
Lopez says he has a bold, creative idea about transportation. “How about we buy E-470 and take the tolls off?”
What in the hell? Where did that come from? Why would we do that? Lopez obviously does not understand that E-470 is a public-private partnership that would cost gajillions of dollars to break away from.
52:32: Neuschwanger talks about SB-260 being about the Green New Deal.
Her big plan is the same vacuous bullshit that Republicans have always maintained as a “solution.” She’s going to trim the budget and make it more efficient, of course! Like magic!
53:45: “The first thing I would do is invite Elon Musk out for a beer,” says Ganahl. She’s trying for a laugh line. It fails. Miserably. (Ganahl has admitted in the past that she can’t tell a joke, and she wasn’t kidding).
Ganahl says SB-260 is the “new green deal” implemented at the state level. Then she calls it “the new green deal” once more. She says Jared Polis wants to destroy our roads and prevent us from driving. No, seriously.
“He wants to decimate our ability to drive. He wants to destroy our roads so that we don’t want to get in our cars.” Ganahl says that Polis is also encouraging remote working, all of which adds up to some sort of conspiratorial conclusion that isn’t totally clear. It’s kind of like watching the Scooby Doo team try to solve a mystery with Shaggy in charge.
She says SB-260 is a shell game to move money for climate change and not roads, then concludes by once again calling it the “new green deal.”
55:00: Caldara plays stand-up comedian and then asks if the candidates have any secrets to share to get their dirty laundry out in the open.
“Yes, I’m pregnant,” yells Neuschwanger. This is a joke. It is as hilarious as you are imagining.
Neuschwanger then says that she has been arrested three times. “And I’m very proud of that, actually.” The story involves an abusive relationship with a police officer while she was in college, but we don’t get any other details.
“My mug shots, I’m sure, are great; I’m looking forward to seeing them again,” she concludes with a wry smile. This is actually pretty good. Well played by Neuschwanger.
56:30: Ganahl says her life is an open book and she can’t think of anything specifically.
Right here we see one of Ganahl’s real weaknesses as a candidate – she has the charisma of a cardboard box. She’s taking the question way too literally. The point of this question was to show that you have a personality, and Ganahl does not.
57:00: Lopez says that because this is not the first time he’s run for governor, everything that could get out there has been out there before.
Right. We’d doubt anybody ever took Lopez’s candidacy seriously enough to bother doing opposition research on him.
Lopez does mention the fact that he got into trouble from his time working in the Small Business Administration. Lopez says he settled that case, and uses the story to explain that he knows what it feels like to be accused of a false crime by the government (in a case which he settled, remember). This is a badge of honor, apparently.
59:00: Caldara asks the candidates how they plan to communicate with voters since “all of us have agreed that the press will not give you a fair shot or equal time.” Haven’t we heard this question seven times already?
59:30: Ganahl says it’s all about speaking to voters one-on-one through social media and emails.
She says her campaign recently launched something called “Ganahl Gals” that is an attempt by one of Youngkin’s former staffers to replicate a women’s movement for Ganahl in Colorado. She closes without answering the question, instead rattling off her talking points about school choice and mental health, etc.
1:00:40: “It’s not about the money. It’s about the message and the messenger,” says Lopez. He reiterates that his campaign is basically a “word-of-mouth” effort, then he says something new:
“The church is starting to wake up and the pastors are starting to talk about how important it is for their congregations to get involved and vote Biblical values.”
This is problematic for a whole bunch of obvious reasons, none of which occur to Lopez.
1:02:00: Neuschwanger repeats her super-duper plan that she will reach the largest voting pool through her social media content. She’s very confident about her statistic that millennials and Gen Xers spend “6-8 hours a day” on social media.
“We need to get these unaffiliated young people to the voter ballots,” she says. Then she tells a story that she thinks makes her point: “You’d be surprised at how many times people come up to you and say, ‘I follow you on Tik Tok.’” She says she was recently in Florida and met people from many different states who said that they follow her on social media…which would be relevant if people from other states could vote in the Colorado Republican Primary.
1:03:25: Now we have a question from the audience: Who would you vote for in the Primary if you weren’t running?
This generates a lot of oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
1:03:35: Neuschwanger says, “Girls gotta stick together.” Then she pauses and says, “Actually, I’d vote for Greg.”
This seems to anger Ganahl. “Danielle, I just don’t know how you’re going to get past working through the issue around the arrests and some of the stuff that you just mentioned in a General Election. Democrats are brutal, and they’re going to come after you on that.”
DN responds quickly. “I’m not really worried about that considering that I’m the highest-polling governor candidate in Colorado right now.”
“Yeah, and Danielle – who did that poll?” asks Ganahl. “ProgressNow and the Democrats. Who of you [sic] trust the Democrats for information or polling to tell you that you’re the frontrunner? Respectfully, I think it’s early on. We’ve all got a long way to go, we’ve got messages to get out. But I do think you’re going to have trouble in the General [Election] with that in your background.”
1:04:10: Lopez, who is positioned between the two women, is trying really hard to sink into his chair and disappear as Ganahl and Neuschwanger go after each other.
“So when I first announced, the Republican Party told me as a no-name Colorado rancher who is broke, I would have no chance to getting into the final three [sic],” says Neuschwanger. “And yet, here all three of us are. So I’ll take my chances. I’m pretty good at poker. And I’m going to take a gamble on the fact that I will be the one in the General [Election]. But thank you for sharing your concerns.”
1:04:41: Lopez jumps in with a zinger of his own. “Truth be told, I had Heidi on my short list as Lieutenant Governor in 2018.”
“She’s taller than you,” retorts Neuschwanger.
1:05:40: It’s time for three-minute closing remarks. Ganahl is first.
“I know you’re tired of losing elections, aren’t ya?” says Ganahl. “Me, too.”
Ganahl says that being elected CU Regent in a statewide race in 2016 proves that she can do it again in 2022.
“I have the right team at the right minute with the right message,” says Ganahl. Right!
She’s a mom on a mission, she trusts people to make their own decisions, she’ll follow the Constitution, yada, yada.
“And I will make sure, on day one, that I rescind as many Executive Orders as possible. He’s done hundreds of them. I will replace every board and commission member I possibly can – there are hundreds of them. I will hire 30% more state troopers to protect us.” Ganahl might just be reading off a list of bullet points now.
“I am running a winning campaign. I am running to completely turn Colorado around. Completely.” Totally.
Ganahl finishes with, “God Bless Colorado, and God Bless America,” which gets her far and away the loudest cheers of the night.
1:08:45: “We have been asleep at the wheel for the last 30 years,” says Neuschwanger. “And while we were asleep, the progressive left was sowing seeds of sin.” We’re not sure what that means, but 10 points for alliteration! “And now, they’re ready to harvest the fruits of their labor.”
“We will see a red wave in 2022,” she says with little excitement.
“All of you must now stay engaged from now until 2022 and long after.”
This was one of the lamest closing statements we’ve heard from any candidate in a long time.
1:10:15: Lopez notes that Colorado has elected just one Republican governor in the last 48 years, which he says is because “we don’t know how to connect with the hearts and minds of people.” True!
Lopez says that in 2018, Democrats invited Republican gubernatorial candidates to their candidate forums and he was the only Republican who attended. He says he went to seven of these events. He says despite being the only Republican in a room of 400 people, “I never got heckled, I never got mistreated.”
We have no recollection of this happening, but whatever.
“I’m going to represent not only those who vote for me, but those who don’t vote for me, because that’s what a governor does.”
And then, Lopez finishes with the kind of sentence that is only too-perfect for this evening: “So that you and your family can enjoy the beautyness of our state [sic].”