Election 2018

Polis, other Democrats secure state offices

Polis kept Stapleton at arm's length in polarized contest; Weiser up on Brauchler

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Colorado's new governor says he's focused on saving familes money on health care coverage and being a leader for all people.

The night of Nov. 6, Jared Polis walked onstage at the Democrats' watch party in downtown Denver as loudspeakers played Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

"I pledge to serve all Coloradans — no matter your party, no matter where you live, no matter your race or your gender," Polis said in his acceptance speech at about 8 p.m., noting Stapleton had called to congratulate him.

Polis, of Boulder, defeated Republican Walker Stapleton, of Greenwood Village, by about 7 percentage points — 51.9 to 44.6 — according to unofficial results posted the afternoon of Nov. 7, nearly 24 hours after the polls closed on Election Day.

Polis, who will replace fellow Democrat John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited, becomes the first openly gay governor in the nation. Polis touched on the status of sexual orientation and gender in his speech.

"We proved that no barrier should stand in the way of pursuing your dreams," Polis said. "For the LGBTQ pioneers ... who endured so much hardship and hurt ... for all you've done to overcome, thank you."

Stapleton announced on Twitter that he congratulated Polis at about 8 p.m. on Election Night.

"It is time for everyone to come together and work for the good of Colorado," Stapleton said. "Thank you to everyone for your support throughout this campaign."

Polis and Stapleton competed in a starkly polarized race that saw President Donald Trump cast a wide shadow. Pro- and anti-Trump undertones abounded in the campaigns' messaging, but the candidates also drew sharp lines between each other on front-burner issues in the state, such as energy, immigration and transportation.

Polis has served as the U.S. representative for the 2nd Congressional District — including areas in Boulder, Clear Creek, Jefferson, Larimer and other counties — since 2009.

An entrepreneur who started internet efforts proflowers.com and bluemountain.com, Polis largely self-funded his campaign with about $22.8 million of the campaign's $23.2 million total contributions, according to Colorado Secretary of State data as of Oct. 29. Stapleton took in $3.9 million in contributions total as of that date, according to the data.

Stapleton, the current state treasurer, served as a CEO and chief financial officer in the private sector before taking office in 2011.

Polis' win was part of what seemed to be a "blue wave" in Colorado, a state that saw Democrats win a number of high-profile offices.

State attorney general

Democrat Phil Weiser, a professor and former dean at the University of Colorado Law School, defeated Republican George Brauchler in the race for state attorney general, 49.9 percent to 47.1 percent, according to results posted Nov. 7.

On Election Night, Weiser gave a speech that mentioned what he said were the "authentic relationships" he built across the state. He also touched on money put into negative ads during the campaign.

"What we proved in this election is that people win campaigns," Weiser said. "Colorado will show our nation how democracy can work."

Brauchler conceded the race the next morning, saying in a news release that he looks forward to working with Weiser and the state's new leadership.

"This is a new era in Colorado politics," Brauchler said. "I am proud of the job we did running a close race in a state that appears blue at this time. As much as I am disappointed in the outcome, I am proud of our democratic system of self-government and to have been given the chance to compete for such an important office."

Brauchler, of Parker, is the 18th Judicial District Attorney in the south metro area. He pegged his opponent as wanting Washington to dictate to Colorado, while Weiser said Brauchler's background readies him for only 10 percent of the state attorney general's job.

Weiser, of Denver, commented on his opponent during his victory address.

"It takes a lot to step up and run," Weiser said. "George had a different vision, and the voters got to choose.”

The attorney general is Colorado's top legal official, known as the “people's lawyer” who combats consumer scams, defends Colorado's laws and protects its land, water and air, to name a few duties.

Brauchler painted Weiser as a partisan who aims to “link hands” with other activist attorneys general, while Weiser framed his campaign as a fight for people's basic rights and business accountability.

Who could pull off the win had been an open question between Brauchler, a prosecutor who has cultivated a tough-on-crime image, and a professor with less name recognition who had the opportunity to ride a wave of anti-Trump sentiment among Democrats.

State secretary of state

Democratic challenger Jena Griswold unseated Secretary of State Wayne Williams, garnering 51.1 percent of the vote compared to Williams' 46.5 percent.

Griswold began a victory speech by thanking Williams for "his years of service to our state," going on to outline her priorities for the office, according to a news release.

“We must ensure that every single voter be heard — black or white, old or young, Republican, Democrat or Independent," Griswold said. "Colorado can start down this path by expanding automatic voter registration."

Williams, of Colorado Springs, was running for a second term. Griswold, of Louisville, is a voter-protection attorney.

The Secretary of State's Office oversees elections and business registration in the state, among other duties.

State treasurer

Democrat Dave Young defeated Republican Brian Watson by about 4 percentage points — 50.8 to 46.6 — in the contest to replace Stapleton as treasurer.

Watson, of Denver, works in commercial real estate. Young, of Greeley, is the current representative for state House District 50 and a college instructor. District 50 includes the Greeley area.

The treasurer's office invests Colorado's tax dollars and helps get unclaimed property back to its lawful owners. The treasurer also serves on the board of the Public Employees' Retirement Association, or PERA, the state's public-employee pension program.

University of Colorado regent at large

For the University of Colorado Board of Regents, Republican Ken Montera, a retired corporate executive, faced Democrat Lesley Smith, a CU scientist and educator, in the race for an at-large seat. Smith won the seat with 50.4 percent of the vote, compared to Montera's 44.9 percent.

The board of regents generally governs, and controls funds for, the four CU campuses.

 

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