Meet the Colorado rancher spending $11 million — and counting — to prevent Jared Polis from winning reelection |

Meet the Colorado rancher spending $11 million — and counting — to prevent Jared Polis from winning reelection

Steve Wells is hoping to defeat Democrats in November by spending a portion of his fortune grown from allowing oil and gas drilling on his land

Jesse Paul
The Colorado Sun
Weld County farmer and rancher Steve Wells has donated more than $6 million to Republican Heidi Ganahl's gubernatorial campaign.
Valerie Mosley/For the Colorado Sun

Decisions made at a shiny conference table inside a former truck repair shop in this as-rural-as-rural-gets corner of Colorado may represent the GOP’s best shot in November of unwinding four years of total Democratic control of state government. 

It’s where rancher Steve Wells is plotting, mostly by his lonesome, how to spend the $11 million — and counting — of his personal fortune he’s dedicated to preventing Democratic Gov. Jared Polis from winning a second term. The money is going to a political action committee Wells formed that’s purchasing billboard space and TV ads across Colorado.

Wells, whose family has been farming and ranching in Colorado for more than 125 years, is not your traditional political influencer. He doesn’t like the halls of power, nor the people who fill them. But what he says he dislikes even more is the state’s direction, and he’s willing to dig into his deep pockets — filled with money from when he allowed oil and gas drilling on his 40,000-acre Weld County spread — to change it. 

“This money that I’m spending to do this — I mean, I stopped some other projects I was doing,” Wells, 64, told The Colorado Sun during an interview last week at his property about 20 miles east of Greeley. “I walked away from a solar project. It’s gonna change some things. But this is more important to me. Making him go away is the most important. This will be the most important thing I think in my life if we can get him gone.”

Wells is fed up with the rising number of fentanyl deaths in Colorado and what he sees as a demoralized law enforcement corps. He thinks there’s government overreach in schools, where teachers should be teaching science and math and not “sexual things.” He says agriculture and oil and gas are being overregulated and casts doubt on the science behind climate change and the need for a green energy transition. 

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