Democratic candidate Jared Polis was projected to make American history Tuesday night likely becoming the first openly gay man to be elected as a U.S. governor. At the time of this reporting, Polis held approximately 51 per cent of the vote against Republican opponent Walker Stapleton’s 45 per cent.
Going up against Stapleton, the state treasurer for Colorado, to fill outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper’s seat, Polis won the primary election with approximately 44 per cent of the vote. He’s served five terms as a Congressman in Colorado
He and his partner Marlon Reis are the fathers of two young children and previously told CNN about their experience as a same-sex couple on Capitol Hill in 2009. In addition, Polis is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, having founded several successful companies including the florist site Proflowers.com and online greeting card creator Bluemountain.com.
Originally from Boulder, Polis’ first election win came in 2000 when he was voted into the Colorado State Board of Education. He was elected to represent Colorado’s Second Congressional District in 2008.
Since then, he’s emerged as one of the most pro-cannabis politicians in Washington, CNN reports, as he advocated last year for decriminalizing marijuana and removing the substance as a Schedule 1 drug last year.
He campaigned for the governorship on universal free healthcare, free kindergarten and preschool, and movements towards a 100 per cent renewable energy state.
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Polis has told ABC that while being an openly gay governor puts him in the history books, he doesn’t think it’s unusual in a state like Colorado.
“Colorado is a ground-breaking state,” said Polis. “We’ve had LGBT speakers in our state assembly, Senate minority leaders, commissioners.”
In most polls leading up to the vote, Polis was projected to take at least 45 per cent of the vote to win the election. In the most recent polls cited by FiveThirtyEight, Polis held double-digit leads over Stapleton among women, unaffiliated voters and voters under 40.
Throughout the campaign, ABC reports that Polis has talked frequently about lowering the cost of early childhood education and how his opponent, if elected, would simply be a “yes-man” for the president.
He’s also talked often of electing diverse leaders to public office who are “fully representative of the people they’re elected to work for,” he told ABC.
“That means we should have our communities of colour represented, women represented, the LGBTQ community represented. And the more diversity we have in elected leadership, responsible positions, I think the better result we’ll have,” he continued.
He’s one of a handful of LGBTQ candidates running in these midterm elections. Vermont’s Democratic candidate for governor, Christine Hallquist, is the first transgender woman to be a major party’s candidate for governor. Gov. Kate Brown, who’s up for re-election in Oregon, became the first openly bisexual person to serve as a state’s governor.
Following his victory, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, an American political action committee dedicated to having more LBGTQ-identifying candidates elected to public office, issued a statement by the president of the fund, Mayor Annise Parker.
“This is the evolution we will fight for in states all throughout the country – both red and blue – because we know voters are ready to support authentic, values-driven LGBTQ candidates who speak to the issues that matter most. Jared shattered a lavender ceiling in Colorado, but its effect will extend well-beyond the state’s borders,” she said in the statement.,