Jared Polis has defeated state Treasurer Walker Stapleton to become the first openly gay male governor in US history. Stapleton sought to court unaffiliated voters, Colorado’s largest voting bloc, by insisting that Polis would jeopardize economic growth with school funding proposals and expand health care. Healthcare was a top issue with many Colorado rural and mountain towns paying some of the nation’s highest insurance premiums. Polis ran on a universal healthcare platform.
- Is being gay still a political liability in most of the country?
- Does single-payer healthcare have bi-partisan support?
- Is Colorado a solidly blue state now?
Colorado Democratic gubernatorial Jared Polis has served in Congress since 2009. | David Zalubowski/AP Photo
Colorado voters on Tuesday elected Democrat Jared Polis as governor, making him the first openly gay man to win a U.S. gubernatorial contest, POLITICO projects.
Polis, a Democrat who has served in Congress since 2009, defeated Republican candidate Walter Stapleton, the state’s treasurer. He will succeed Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who was not eligible to run for re-election because of term limits.
Polis is the second openly LGBT person to be elected as a governor, following Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who identifies as bisexual. Brown, a Democrat, became governor in 2015 and was re-elected in a 2016 special election. She was again on the ballot on Tuesday.
Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, came out as gay in 2004 at the same time that he announced his resignation.
Polis ran this year on a progressive platform, backing Medicare-for-All, tougher gun laws, the expansion of renewable energy, and free universal preschool and kindergarten.