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Heidi Ganahl gives a thumbs up after winning CU Regent at the Colorado Republican election night party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Greenwood Village, Colo. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Republican Heidi Ganahl on Friday formed a candidate committee to run for governor of Colorado in 2022, confirming months of speculation that she would launch a bid to lead the state.

The University of Colorado regent, who is the only Republican official who holds statewide office, was expected to formally announce her bid next week.

“It’s time to fight for our Colorado way of life we love,” Ganahl said in a written statement to The Colorado Sun. “Coloradans agree. Look at the latest polls. For the first time in more than a decade, Colorado voters think we’re on the wrong track. Stay tuned on Tuesday for more.”

Ganahl was elected as an at-large member of the board of regents in 2016, beating Democrat Alice Madden by 1 percentage point. She outperformed former President Donald Trump in the state by 8 percentage points that year. 

Ganahl, should she be selected as the GOP nominee, will face Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in next year’s election. 

Polis easily won election to his first term in 2018 after pouring more than $23 million of his own fortune into his campaign. Republican strategists agree that any bid to unseat the incumbent will likely be a long shot. 

Gov. Jared Polis speaks on June 11, 2021 before signing Senate Bill 288; 268, and House Bill 1164 into law at the Boettcher Mansion in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Ganahl, who lives in Lone Tree and has four children, started Camp Bow Wow, a franchise doggy day care chain that has become a $140 million brand. She sold the company in 2014

Ganahl has been the conservative voice on the University of Colorado Board of Regents as the governing panel has navigated controversies around former President Mark Kennedy. 

Kennedy, a former Republican congressman, stepped down from his position earlier this year after facing increasing pressure from students, faculty and the new Democratic majority on the board of regents.

Ganahl said that Kennedy was “fired for the high crime of not being a Democrat or left-wing academic to a new board majority who many days forget they serve the students of CU and not the (Democratic National Committee). In this case, their need to grind partisan axes will cost taxpayers and students millions of dollars.”

Republican Greg Lopez, the former mayor of Parker, has already jumped into the GOP gubernatorial primary. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 2018.

Last year, Lopez paid $15,000 to settle a civil case pursued by federal prosecutors alleging that after he left his position as regional head of the Small Business Administration he attempted to improperly influence the agency’s actions in violation of federal law. As part of the settlement, Lopez acknowledged that federal prosecutors could prove the allegations in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado.

No Republican running statewide has won more than 45% of the vote in the past two election cycles.

The Colorado Sun —

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul