The Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports on the relatively narrow victory last night by Heidi Ganahl over ex-Parker Mayor Greg Lopez in the Republican gubernatorial primary, with Ganahl squeaking out ahead of the baggage-laden Lopez by a 53-47% margin:
Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent and the only Republican here still standing in statewide elected office, entered the race with significant advantages over opponent Lopez, including much more fundraising power, many more high-level endorsements and greater fluency on policy and legislative matters. She has a compelling story to tell, as a successful entrepreneur who years ago endured the loss of her first husband, and more recently survived a brain tumor.
Lopez, on the other hand, hasn’t held elected office in about 30 years, tried and failed to become governor in 2018, struggles mightily with fundraising and is prone to very controversial statements. He thinks, for example, that abortion should be banned in every instance — Ganahl thinks there should be exceptions — and he has proposed undoing Colorado’s “one person, one vote” system in order to transfer more electoral power to rural, more conservative areas…
Ganahl’s campaign has never really taken off, perhaps in part due to the fact that she is trying to walk a difficult line by leaning into election denial hard enough to let the far right know she’s with them, but declining to go all in. [Pols emphasis]
Faced with an unexpectedly robust challenge from Lopez and widely-rumored internal polling showing Ganahl neck and neck or even losing, in the final weeks ahead of yesterday’s primary election Ganahl launched a massive outreach campaign to far-right media outlets. We talked last week about Ganahl blitzing leading election conspiracy theorist/practitioner Steve Bannon’s news site and podcast, but that wasn’t the only example:
In addition to touring the nether reaches of conservative media, Heidi’s campaign paid for a text message campaign with apparently very wide distribution since it was sent to Democrats as well as Republican primary voters, extolling Ganahl as the “MAGA candidate Colorado has been waiting for” (see graphic top). A second text blast from Ganahl’s campaign, again to seemingly every cell phone number they could find, focused on Ganahl’s close ties to Charlie Kirk, the highly controversial far-right founder of Turning Point USA:
Post-primary spin from establishment Republicans delighted that their favored candidates in most cases prevailed yesterday has tried to characterize the results as a “win for sanity,” but in Ganahl’s case that’s not an accurate depiction of how she beat Lopez. Where Joe O’Dea appears to have turned Democratic “meddling” in his race into a successful sympathy ploy with the mainstream local media, Ganahl took the different tack of engaging with far-right media outlets and influentials most likely to help her with Republican primary voters.
A very different path to primary victory, with serious ramifications for Ganahl in the general election. Ganahl’s embrace of leading figures in the 2020 election conspiracy such as Bannon, John Solomon, and Sebastian Gorka to raise her name ID for the primary creates liabilities for Ganahl in the general election that the other Republican statewide candidates didn’t take on. At the very least, this makes it impossible to lump Ganahl in with any supposed wholesale GOP “rejection of radicalism” in yesterday’s results. Given the much wider margin by which O’Dea beat Hanks versus Ganahl’s much smaller win over Lopez, it’s evident that Ganahl made the wrong choice strategically.
Ganahl is, by her own description, “the MAGA candidate Colorado has been waiting for.”
And in November, Colorado voters will know what to do.
She’s a pseudo-MAGA. She’s not one of the hard-boiled wing nuts (think Lori Saine, Vicky Marble, or Peggy Littleton). But she is trying to come across as one. She looks like she could have been on the cast of Desperate Housewives.
And she’s not all that bright. Which means she will make a lot of mistakes between now and Election Day.
The best thing that can be said about
HiediHeidi Ganahl is that she neither promised a pardon to Tina Peters nor was ever charged with beating her wife.
It was a low bar for her to clear yesterday. But she cleared it.
PS And unlike the classic strategy of running in the primary campaign to the candidate’s party’s ideological pole and then pivoting to the center after the primary, Ganahl doesn’t have that luxury since she will have to deal with Danielle New Schwangler picking off MAGA voters as the ACP candidate.
It may be entertaining, but it doesn’t matter. Polis has this if he can keep breathing until Election Day.
Entertaining material but she's not got a chance in hades of being elected.