clock menu more-arrow no yes

Jared Polis becomes first openly gay person elected governor in America

The Democrat ran on a progressive platform, contrasting himself from his Republican opponent.

Jared Polis is the first openly gay elected governor.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Jared Polis has won the Colorado governor’s race, becoming the first openly gay person to be elected governor in America.

Polis, a Democrat who has served in the House of Representatives since 2009, did not attempt to hide his sexual orientation on the campaign trail, and sometimes used it to emphasize the contrast between himself and President Donald Trump’s administration.

“I think it really gives Colorado an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as inclusive as where America is today,” Polis told Colorado Democrats during a speech this year.

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, came out as gay while in office in 2004. And Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat, is openly bisexual, which made her the first openly LGBTQ person elected governor when she won in 2016.

But Polis is the first openly gay candidate to be elected for governor.

His sexual orientation didn’t get any significant attention from his Republican opponent, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton. But some homophobic bumper stickers against Polis did pop up in the state.

Polis ran on a fairly progressive platform. He vowed to fight for Medicare-for-all. He also backed stronger gun laws, investments in renewable energy, repeal of the death penalty, universal full-day preschool and kindergarten as an extension of Colorado’s public schools, and expanded broadband access.

He currently serves in Congress, where he has earned a national reputation as a progressive politician. He, for example, supported marijuana legalization even before Colorado was one of the first states, along with Washington state, to vote to legalize pot. As his campaign website pointed out, “Jared is the only candidate running for governor who supported and voted to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado.”

Polis will succeed Democrat John Hickenlooper, who’s been Colorado’s governor since 2011.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.