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Our View: Never really knew Ganahl or perceived plan

Gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl cried quietly through her concession speech, paused to collect herself and showed a softness – a vulnerability – noticeably absent on the campaign trail.

Ganahl’s preteen daughter joined her mother on stage and sobbed hard, heaving and burying her face into Ganahl, who talked about being a “mom on a mission.”

Ganahl’s words were emotional. And perplexing. Beyond running on common conservative phrasing – school choice, no taxes, crackdown on crime and drugs, freedom and lassoing inflation – we could never get a solid plan out of her. Like others coming behind Donald Trump, she ran a campaign as a populist without credible, detailed content. She floated ideas without connecting the dots. That Trump-like attitude – pick me, pick the Republican Party – with no real roadmap to results cost her.

Her words didn’t jibe with the moms on missions we know, who sit at kitchen tables, pencils pinning up hair, as they line out exactly what needs to happen. Ganahl’s mission breakdown didn’t go beyond sitting behind the governor’s desk. So many questions. One being, how could Ganahl eliminate income tax and fund the state? No spreadsheet presented.

From the start, Ganahl dodged questions about whether the 2020 presidential election was legitimate. Then Danny Moore, an election denier, became her running mate. Things became perverse in late September on Jimmy Sengenberger’s KNUS show, where Ganahl said Colorado students were self-identifying as cats.

Ganahl said, “It’s happening all over Colorado and schools are tolerating it.”

In early October, Lauren Boebert repeated the well-refuted lie in Mesa County, adding that Durango schools provided litter boxes for students. Educators scrambled to set the record straight.

After winning 40.8% of the votes next to Gov. Jared Polis’ 57%, Ganahl wore her disappointment and exhaustion. Her concession speech seemed heartfelt. But what was it really about? Being teary after losing an election is understandable. Even more heart-wrenching would be to lose after delivering a bulletproof plan to re-right Colorado that would not see the light of day. A plan that never materialized.

In talking about forces against her, Ganahl mentioned the media “from Day One.” Tough words. We tried to get at the truth. But she wouldn’t fully engage.

After stepping off the stage, candidates commonly give closing remarks. But Ganahl refused. Her team yelled over reporters’ questions, shooing them away, according to a media partner. It’s sad to go out on this note. We never knew the real Heidi Ganahl behind that steely facade. Her concession was our closest glimpse.

It was a different story with Polis, who appeared confident and seasoned, and ran on his record. During debates, he was chill, yet projected a “bring it” challenge to Ganahl.

Polis earned this next term. He’s done good work, including capping the cost of insulin, offering property tax relief and more. A favorite accomplishment is free, full-day kindergarten and preschool. This levels the playing field for all young schoolchildren and provides economic purpose as parents – especially moms – can more easily work.

Another Polis achievement. Colorado was the ninth lowest in the U.S. for COVID-19 deaths. During the pandemic, his actions were swift, rational and data-driven.

With green partners, Polis is committed to 80% of renewable energy in Colorado by 2030 and 100% by 2040. He has a plan with benchmarks. We like that.

Polis shored up women’s reproductive rights, positioning the state as a bulwark against the feds, if need be.

In his acceptance speech, Polis talked about “a Colorado for all, where there’s room and a place for everybody to be themselves.”

We share his sentiment.