Breaking News
More () »

Democrat Jared Polis defeats Republican Walker Stapleton to become Colorado's next governor

Colorado's next governor will be Jared Polis.

Jared Polis will be the next governor of Colorado after defeating Republican Walker Stapleton on Election Night. He is the first openly gay Governor elected anywhere in the nation. He'll also be the first Jewish man to serve as governor in Colorado.

Polis will take over for fellow Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper after the latter's second term ends early next year. Polis celebrated with constituents and supporters at the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver.

He campaigned on things like single-payer health care system, 100 percent renewable energy and full-day preschool and kindergarten. At his victory party at the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver, Polis told the crowd he pledged to serve all Coloradans no matter their beliefs.

"For this transition as we move into governing, we're going to show that we can all win together and tonight is the beginning of that incredible journey for our state," he told his gathered supporters. "Thank you all for showing that Colorado voters believe in unity and that we are all in this together."

With little more than three weeks to go in the election, Polis and Stapleton sat down to discuss their views and hopes for Colorado at the 9NEWS/Coloradoan debate at Colorado State University.

Hosted by 9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark and political journalist Marshall Zelinger, the candidates squared off, argued and often talked over one another.

During the debate, Polis talked about his plans for Colorado. He talked about his ability to get things done, which transportation proposition he supported (he was against Prop 109 and neutral on Prop 110), talked about the costs of full-day kindergarten (offering a cost we found be unrealistically low), and said he fully supported Roe v. Wade.

Our non-scientific polling showed that viewers watching the debate were leaning toward Polis at the time. According to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight, this race was Polis' to lose since the primary.

Stapleton addressed his supporters after the loss, thanking his running mate, his family, and his supporters.

"I want to speak to young people," he added. "Public service is a noble calling, well-intentioned people can do good for Colorado. I believe that any definition of a successful life at some point must include service together."

He ended by saying he was blessed by the state and that he was thankful to every one of his supporters.

Just over a week until election day, the site gave Polis a 96 percent chance of winning the race and predicted him winning more than 59 percent of the vote in some instances. While complete returns are unavailable, Polis outstripped Stapleton in the metro area. FiveThirtyEight had the election as one of the safer Democratic bets, putting it alongside gubernatorial races like those in California, New York and Hawaii.

Getting to the governor's chair - and the $90,000 salary - did not come cheap for Polis, who put millions of his own considerable fortune into the race. As recently as a week out, he'd given his campaign $500,000, according to the Colorado Secretary of State.

His campaign spent well over $20 million to win the race, while Stapleton spent just $3.7 million in comparison. Polis, who's been serving as the congressman for Colorado's 2nd District (which includes Boulder and the surrounding areas) since 2009, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a personal fortune of nearly $400 million.

Prior to starting down the path to the governorship, he started several tech companies that were bought out in the late '90s and early 2000s for hundreds of millions of dollars.

His political career began in earnest in 2000 when he was elected to an At-Large seat on the Colorado State Board of Education and served one six-year term until 2007.

He was elected to Congress two years later, winning a contentious primary election for the safely blue seat, succeeding Mark Udall, who went on to become a U.S. senator. He announced his intentions to become Colorado's next governor formally in June 2017.

Before You Leave, Check This Out