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Jared Polis Wins as Colorado Governor, First Openly Gay Man to Lead a State

Longtime Democratic politician makes history, as does Sharice Davids, who won a Kansas House race

U.S. Rep Jared Polis waves to the crowd before accepting the Democratic nomination for the Colorado Governor's race at an election night rally, in Broomfield, ColoColorado Primary, Broomfield, USA - 26 Jun 2018

U.S. Rep Jared Polis waves to the crowd before accepting the Democratic nomination for the Colorado Governor's race at an election night rally, in Broomfield, Colorado on June 26th, 2018

Jack Dempsey/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Jared Polis won the Colorado governor’s race, becoming the first openly gay person to be elected governor in America.

Polis, a five-term congressman, faced Republican Walker Stapleton, the state treasurer, in the race. Incumbent governor, Democrat John Hickenlooper, was prevented by term limits from running again.

After announcement of the win, Hickenlooper tweeted: “Over the last few weeks, Coloradans cast their votes in favor of a bright & prosperous future & tonight we elected @PolisForCO as the new governor of this great state. Congrats to all who stood up, showed up & spoke up. I couldn’t be more excited for what’s ahead. #COforAll”

“I have spoken to Congressman Polis and congratulated him on his victory,” Stapleton tweeted after conceding. “It is time for everyone to come together and work for the good of Colorado. Thank you to everyone for your support throughout this campaign.”

Polis released a press release pledging to serve all Coloradans and thanking Hickenlooper for his leadership. “As governor, I will serve with the Colorado way of life in my heart and on my mind at all times,” Polis wrote. “And I pledge to serve all Coloradans, no matter your party, no matter who you voted for in this race — because there’s far too much at stake to let politics or partisanship get in the way of building the bright future for our state that every family deserves.”

After Polis won the Democratic nomination in the primaries earlier this year, LGBTQ Victory Fund responded enthusiastically to his win. “Tonight Jared Polis pulled off a huge victory and is on track to become the first openly gay man elected governor of a U.S. state,” said Victory Fund president and CEO Annise Parker. “Primary voters chose Jared not because he could be a historic first, but because of his unquestionable integrity and positive vision for Coloradans.”

In June, Polis told The Advocate that he ran for governor because states needed to fight President Trump’s agenda. “With Trump moving us backward on so many issues, we really need bold leadership at the state level,” he said. “I feel I can make more progress back home in Colorado.”

Many were watching Colorado, considered a “purple state,” and Polis’ earlier victory was seen as a sharp leftward shift that would test whether Colorado was perhaps a “true-blue” state. As the Denver Post reported: “Polis ran a campaign aimed at diehard Democrats with promises to implement all-day pre-school and kindergarten for every child and a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system in Colorado — both of which were ballot initiatives rejected by voters in prior elections.”

Megadonor Tim Gill, another Coloradan, has used his fortune to support LGBTQ candidates through the Victory Fund. And this and other wins can be seen a success for his agenda to elect candidates in pivotal areas of the country. Another historic win during the 2018 midterms was Democrat Sharice Davids, who won the race for Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, unseating incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder. An openly gay woman, she will also be first Native American in Congress. A member of Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin, Davids was also backed by Emily’s List, a national organization dedicated to electing Democratic women.

In This Article: 2018 Midterms, LGBT

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