GOP candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl faced particular scrutiny over her broad tax plan Friday at a forum hosted by a business-focused group.
Ganahl has made zero income tax and a halved gas fee a central part of her pitch to voters to re-right a Colorado she casts as overrun by crime, drugs and economic malaise. In turn, Gov. Jared Polis, the Democratic incumbent, has said his opponent’s plan would gut dedicated funding for state patrol and other state programs. Ganahl said she planned to publish her plan Friday afternoon, but her campaign manager said after the forum it might still be a couple of days.
Each candidate spoke separately at the Colorado Concern’s forum Friday morning.
The details of Ganahl’s economic plan, which hinges on making up for lost revenue through an audit to find waste and attracting new business and economic activity through lower taxes and fewer regulations, drew special scrutiny from moderator Dean Singleton. Singleton is the former owner and publisher of The Denver Post and founder of its parent company MediaNews Group.
“You still haven’t told us how you’re going to run the government with no state income tax and half the gasoline tax,” Singleton said while interviewing Ganahl. “It makes a good soundbite, but for most of us who understand state government, it’s just total bulls—.”
“Well, a lot of people across Colorado think the government’s total bulls— right now, Dean,” Ganahl responded, saying the state could recruit new economic activity, cut fraud and waste, end tax exemptions and move other fees into the general fund. “There’s a lot of ways we can chip away at this over eight years.”
It was the testiest exchange of the forum.
Polis has previously said he also supports zero income tax, but that it should be replaced with other taxes.
The candidates previously met for a debate in Pueblo on Wednesday, where they laid out starkly different visions of Colorado. Polis highlighted promises kept from his 2018 campaign, including launching free full-day kindergarten and starting to deliver on free preschool, capping insulin costs and programs aimed at lowering health insurance costs.
Ganahl, meanwhile, described a Colorado besieged by drug addiction and crime, with residents struggling economically against an undercurrent of inflation. She laid much of the blame at Polis’ feet.
Ganahl denies being 2020 election denier
At that debate, and at the forum, Ganahl also faced accusations of being a 2020 election denier, or at least aligning with them. Questioning the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory has become a central tenant among some conservatives, stemming from accusations by former President Donald Trump, even though dozens of lawsuits and intense scrutiny have turned up zero evidence of enough fraud to have any bearing on the results.
Ganahl denied she, or her running mate, is an election denier and said she accepted that Biden is president. Her running mate, Danny Moore, was removed from the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission in 2021 after posting to social media that Biden was not “elected by the people” but instead won due to “the Democrat steal.” After his selection, he wrote a guest commentary for the Colorado Springs Gazette to say “I believe, and have always believed, that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president and that he is our commander in chief,” and that he would not take further questions on the matter.
“This is America, where we get to question things, and he deserves the ability to question because he served in the Navy for 24 years,” Ganahl said when Singleton pressed her on the matter.
She also said she would accept the results of the gubernatorial election.
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