DENVER – A hard-fought race to be Colorado’s next governor is over. Democrat Jared Polis has defeated Republican Walker Stapleton in the 2018 gubernatorial race and will succeed term-limited Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Polis, a five-term congressman with a background in the tech sector and education, will be Colorado’s first openly gay governor.
“We proved that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” Polis said during his victory speech. “For the LGBTQ pioneers, for equality and the generations before me who endured so much hardship and hurt to make it possible for so many of us, myself included, to live and to love openly and proudly, and to the people in this room I want to say I am profoundly grateful for all the work we’ve done to overcome, thank you.”
In a race where he poured roughly $20 million into his campaign, Polis wound up winning by an approximate margin of 52 percent to 45 percent.
Stapleton called Polis to concede about an hour after the polls closed Tuesday night.
“Once again, Coloradans have proven democracy works, and though we came up short tonight our fight and the ideas we advanced during the course of this campaign were worth it,” Stapleton said. “Though this has been a tough campaign, now is the time for all of us to come together as Coloradans.”
Polis framed his opponent as someone void of big, bold ideas during CBS4’s televised governor’s debate last month.
“It seems like every time Walker talks it’s ‘Noun, verb, Jared Polis. Noun, verb, Jared Polis,’” he said of the state treasurer.
The two candidates presented vastly different plans for Colorado this year. On transportation, Stapleton called Polis’s push for more mass transit radical.
“We have to be spending all our money on roads and bridges. Bridges and roads,” he said.
Polis replied with this: “Walker just said that buses and light rail and bikes are somehow radical.”
While the candidates both said they opposed Proposition 112, which would implement stricter setbacks for fracking, Polis said he wouldn’t support a delaying action by the governor’s office and the state legislature. He said if it is approved he’ll preserve “the sanctity of the will of the voters” and allow implementation.
Stapleton said he would support a delay of 112, and more.
“I would pursue every redress possible for that job-killing measure,” he said.
Stapleton didn’t reject all of Polis’s stances in CBS4’s debate. In a humorous segment near the conclusion, he said “he and I firmly support the future of kombucha,” noting that Polis entered federal legislation to allow tax reductions for the brewers of the tea beverage, which contains a trace amount of alcohol.
“We’ll have to have a kombucha sometime together Walker, when this is all over,” Polis said.