The most senior out member of the U.S. House on Sunday announced his intent to run for governor of Colorado. If successful, he’d be the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s served in Congress since the start of the Obama administration in 2009, said in an email to supporters he’d formally declare his bid Monday to become governor and to succeed retiring Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“I’m running to be your next governor because I want to turn bold ideas into real results for your family,” Polis wrote. “Colorado can lead the way into the future and, together, we can build an economy that works for everybody — not just those at the top.”
Included in the email blast is video featuring Polis as well as supporters — the owner of Jones’ Scones, a graduate of the New America School founded by Polis, a teacher and a former state senator.
“My life has been about taking big ideas and turning them into results,” Polis said. “I’m running for governor to preserve what makes Colorado special. We’re working to make sure our state works for everyone, not just a few.
Among the goals cited by Polis are making Colorado “completely energy independent” and ensuring the state entirely runs on renewable energy by 2040 with green energy jobs that he says can’t be outsourced overseas. Polis also pledges free full-day preschool and kindergarten for Colorado and “an inclusive economy where workers make more, not just CEOs.”
As a member of Congress, Polis took the lead on legislation seeking to enhance LGBT rights, such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Polis is a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus and a co-sponsor of the Equality Act.
If Polis were to succeed in his bid to become Colorado governor, he’d be the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States and the only sitting openly gay governor.
However, the more general milestone of an openly LGBT person winning election as governor has been achieved. Last year, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who’s bisexual, won election after being appointed to the position in 2015 following the resignation of her predecessor.
Another governor came out as gay after having been elected and serving in office. In 2004, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, came out as gay prior to resigning amid scandal involving an affair with a male aide.
Polis might have some competition for the distinction of becoming the first openly gay person elected governor. In Maryland, gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) has declared his candidacy to unseat Gov. Larry Hogan (R). In Connecticut, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who’s gay, has opened an exploratory committee to run for governor, but hasn’t made an official declaration.
Polis is running in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination. Other Democrats vying for the nomination are former State Sen. Michael Johnston, Denver businessperson Noel Ginsburg, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), former Colorado treasurer Cary Kennedy and businessperson Moses Humes. The primary will take place on June 28 next year.
On the Republican side, declared candidates are Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter, former State Rep. Victor Mitchell, businessperson Doug Robinson and retired banker JoAnne Silva.