Who Colorado’s GOP hopes to lead them to victory in 2022

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Talk to Colorado Republicans these days and you’ll hear an unfamiliar tune: optimism.

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  • It seems jarring in a state where Democrats control the Capitol and hold all but one statewide office. But a handful of GOP strategists told Axios that a midterm election that typically favors the party out of power, and a good roster of potential candidates, gives them hope.

Why is this important: Today marks a year after the 2022 primary election, when Colorado voters will decide GOP candidates.

Inventory: A handful of Republicans have filed nomination papers for governor and the US Senate, but none of them are expected to be a top candidate.

Instead, Heidi Ganahl, a regent at the University of Colorado and the only elected Republican in the entire state, seems almost certain to challenge Democratic Governor Jared Polis.

And Clarice Navarro – a former state lawmaker, head of the Trump administration and current District Director to U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert – is to be encouraged run against Democratic US Senator Michael Bennet.

  • Other candidates for the GOP Senate include Eli Bremer, a 2008 Olympian, and Dan Caplis, conservative radio personality and lawyer.

Threat level: The incumbents hold significant advantages and Democrats would have to spend a lot of money to keep their seats.

  • Polls show Polis remains popular but GOP strategists point out controversies around the governor handling of COVID-19, economic issues and an aggressive Democratic legislative agenda as weaknesses.

  • Bennet just scored a huge victory with his child tax credit, but Republicans say he’s more vulnerable than most think because of the way his votes align with the party’s Liberal leaders.

What they say : “I just think a year from now there could be a very different atmosphere. I think it’s starting to spin,” said Dick Wadhams, a former state GOP chairman.

And after: Colorado GOP President Kristi Burton Brown told Axios the state party is drafting a “Colorado contract,” which is expected to be released in August.

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