Governor Jared Polis and Republican challenger
Hiedi Heidi Ganahl squared off on Wednesday night in Pueblo for the first gubernatorial debate of the 2022 General Election. To the extent that there were any fireworks, they were more like mini sparklers than anything that went ‘boom.’
Wednesday’s forum was missing much of the suspense and build up from debates in prior years, in large part because the race for Governor is a foregone conclusion at this point. Recent polling from Fox 31/Emerson College/The Hill shows that Polis is well ahead of Ganahl (+17 points, in fact), which isn’t likely to change all that much considering that Ganahl doesn’t have the resources to run television ads (her campaign is completely dark) and isn’t going to get any national financial support from Republicans.
You can read more about the debate from The Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio, and The Colorado Sun. To watch the debate yourself, CLICK HERE and skip ahead to about the 1:13:00 mark and avoid the excruciatingly-long introductory period. The very short version of Wednesday’s debate went something like this:
Here’s the Pueblo gubernatorial debate in a nutshell. Every response follows this pattern:
1. Heidi Ganahl: “Jared Polis is mean.”
— Jason Bane (@jason_bane) September 29, 2022
Ganahl’s campaign stacked the room in Pueblo with supporters in an effort to create the appearance of interest in her campaign, which came off sort of like when a large family cheers obnoxiously at a high school graduation. Ganahl aggressively attacked Polis from the start; in her opening statement, for example, Ganahl rattled off a few biographical sentences before launching into a rapid-fire barrage of one grievance after another about Polis. It was not an unexpected strategy, but Ganahl rarely got around to saying anything about her own campaign as the forum moved along. When she did talk about her vision for the office, Ganahl was characterteristically vague.
As The Colorado Sun noted:
“I am going to take Colorado to zero income tax,” Ganahl said, touting a pledge she unveiled months ago but still has not explained how she would do so without decimating the state budget.
Colorado Public Radio noted the same problem:
Ganahl reiterated her campaign promise to eliminate the income tax, which brings in more than $13 billion a year to the state and supplies more than half of the general fund. She also wants to cut the gas tax in half…
…Cutting more than $13 billion from the budget would require finding savings equal to the state’s current general fund spending on education, health care, human services and corrections, combined.
Ganahl said that she wants to cut the size of the state government by 10 percent each year, and claimed that she could find extra money amounting to at least 5% of the state budget which she calculated “might be a billion or two right there.” Throughout the evening, Ganahl threw out random numbers like she was emceeing a game of keno.
There are several more gubernatorial debates planned between now and Election Day — many more than we really need to see. If the rest of the forums follow the same script, Ganahl is going to need to come up with some new tricks to keep them from just turning into re-runs.