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Jared Polis, Colorado's Democratic gubernatorial candidate, waves to voters during a rally with young voters on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo on Oct. 24, 2018.
David Zalubowski/AP
Citizenship

Jared Polis Becomes First Openly Gay Candidate for Governor to Be Elected in US

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Democrat Jared Polis was declared the next governor of Colorado on Tuesday, becoming the first openly gay candidate to be elected governor in the United States, according to Vox.

Polis fully embraced his identity on the campaign trail, and framed the vote as a way to reject the Trump adminsitration’s anti-LGBTQ policies. His victory occurred on a night of other historic firsts that pave the way for greater representation in US politics (for example, the two candidates who became the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress).

However, the new governor of Colorado campaigned on more than his identity, of course, and was considered one of the most progressive candidates running for office in 2018, Vox notes. Among other things, Polis wants to enact universal health care, end mass incarceration, expand internet access, and better fund schools, especially pre-K and kindergarten.

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He also advocates for transitioning to a fully renewable energy economy and introducing blockchain into public services.

“I want to take a moment to acknowledge where we are and how we got here,” Polis said in a victory speech. “Tonight, right here in Colorado, we proved that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Polis defeated the Republican candidate Walker Stapleton and is succeeding governor Paul Hickenlooper, a pro-business Democrat who legalized marijuana, supported immigrants, and passed restrictions on guns, according to Rolling Stone.

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He also has extensive experience governing, having represented Colorado in the House of Representatives since 2009. He was the first openly gay man elected to Congress in 2008.

In a recent interview with Colorado Public Radio, Polis said that improving transportation and housing affordability will be two of his biggest priorities in the first 100 days in office. A ballot measure that would have funded transportation to the tune of $6 billion with an increased sales tax was rejected by voters.

Polis, however, told CPR that he would find funding alternatives if the ballot measure failed and its that attitude of flexibility, along with a commitment to bipartisanship, that helped to get him elected a state that has long been a battleground state.