After a combination of Republican and unaffiliated voters selected Joe O’Dea and Heidi Ganahl as the GOP nominees for U.S. senator and governor, political pundits and mainstream Republicans said the party had dodged a bullet. While very conservative, neither Ganahl nor O’Dea were considered as radical as their primary opponents who would have likely offended unaffiliated voters and given Democrats an easier path to victory in the fall.
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After almost a month of that narrative, Ganahl changed the dynamic overnight with what appears to be a major gaffe by naming Danny Moore as her running mate. By selecting Moore, Ganahl puts her campaign, and O’Dea’s to a lesser extent, right back into the middle of the election denial mess that Republicans thought they’d avoided on primary night.
Shortly after being selected as the chair of the independent redistricting commission, Moore wrote a post in January 2021 questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 elections and criticizing mail-in voting. As a result of the post, he was removed as chair of the redistricting effort.
While being a member of the redistricting commission did not deny Moore of any of his rights to express his concerns or thoughts on any topic, his decision to do so as a member of the commission showed a lack of judgment and political acumen. The fact that his redistricting commission colleagues removed him as chair showed that others knew that his post would make it harder for the public to perceive him as someone who could fairly lead the process to draw new congressional districts for our state.
And similarly, Ganahl is firmly within her rights to choose whoever she wants as her running mate. But as we analyze the most significant campaign decision she made after securing the nomination, choosing someone who both exposes a flank that primary voters had largely protected for her and giving Democrats an easy way to suggest her selection of Moore reflects an election denier belief shows a lack of judgment and political acumen.
Make no mistake, Heidi Ganahl is a huge underdog in her attempt to defeat Jared Polis in this fall’s gubernatorial race. He is more experienced, better known, better funded and enjoys relatively high voter approval ratings after one term in office. Ganahl’s political and governmental experience, not to mention campaign resources, pale in comparison. In the best of circumstances, Ganahl needs to run a perfect campaign and have everything fall her way to be our next governor. Her selection of a running mate suggests that will not be the case.
Greg Romberg had a long career in state and local government and in government relations. He represented corporate, government and trade association clients before federal, state and local governments. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie.
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