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The Race to Become Colorado’s 43rd Governor

Everything you need to know about the unpredictable race for the Centennial State’s executive seat.

Illustration by Lincoln Agnew

Let’s start with the firsts.

For the first time in eight years, Colorado will elect a new governor in November, to replace the term-limited John Hickenlooper. For the first time in 12 years, a Republican might fill that spot. For the first time in 20 years, the Democrats will have a contested primary for the race. But that’s not all: It’s possible that the state will elect its first female governor or its first openly gay governor. This will also likely be the state’s most expensive gubernatorial race in history (at times, more than 20 candidates have vied for the open seat). And for the first time, active* unaffiliated voters—more than one-third of all people who are registered—can cast ballots in the primary elections, to be held on June 26. Yes, the path to becoming the state’s 43rd governor is going to be historic. We dug into the data, polled the pollsters, and interviewed politicos to identify critical counties in the race, explain Colorado’s untested primary system, predict how much money will be spent, and spotlight key issues that will dominate debates. The consensus? Hold on—it’s going to be a wild ride.

* Voters registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office with an active address (register or check on your voting status at

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