Rep. Jared Polis looks to be on track to become the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States after winning his primary race in Colorado Tuesday night.
Polis, a five-time congressman, defeated fellow Democrats Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, and Donna Lynn in the bid to replace outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Polis captured almost 45% of the vote, running on progressive issues such as providing single-payer healthcare and free preschool. He will face off against Republican Walker Stapleton in November, in a state that hasn’t had a Republican in the seat since 2007.
If he can beat out Stapleton, who is second cousins with former President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Polis will become the second out LGBTQ individual elected governor, following Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who is openly bisexual.
“I think it really gives Colorado an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as inclusive as where America is today,” Polis told said of his candidacy during a recent campaign speech, Vox reports.
Polis previously made history as the first openly gay man to win a seat as a non-incumbent, when he was elected to Congress in 2008. He and his partner, Marlon Reis, have two children together: Son Caspian Julius and daughter Cora Barucha.
Before entering politics, Polis was a successful businessman, founding companies such as online florists Proflowers.com and greeting card purveyors Bluemountain.com.
“In the private sector, I was proud to create several innovative businesses that not only created hundreds of good paying jobs, but also gave good benefits to workers, and stock options, so that when we succeeded, it wasn’t just executives and investors that did well, but everybody did well,” Polis said in his acceptance speech.
“What these experiences have shown me, is that leadership is not about dividing people. It’s about finding ways to bring people together, around a bold vision for what we can be, an aspirational vision for Colorado’s future,” he continued.
“Tonight Jared Polis pulled off a huge victory and is on-track to become the first openly gay man elected governor of a U.S. state,” said President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund Annise Parker.
“While it is a historic and promising night for the LGBTQ community, primary voters chose Jared not because he could be a historic first, but because of his unquestionable integrity and positive vision for Coloradans. Voters will have a stark choice in November – between a long-time public servant who governs with values, and the Republican nominee who stands behind the divisive rhetoric and destructive policies of Donald Trump. I am confident Coloradans stand with Jared.”