In this file photo, then-Colorado Gov. Bill Owens responds to questions during a news conference on June 28, 2006, in Denver, where the Republican announced he was calling a special session of the state legislature.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl won a formal endorsement Friday from former Gov. Bill Owens, the only Republican elected governor of Colorado in the last 50 years.

Ganahl, an at-large member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents and founder of a national dog daycare company, is facing former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez in the June primary. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is seeking a second term.

Mail ballots started going out to most state voters this week and are due back to county clerks by June 28.

"I'm proud to endorse Heidi," Owens told Colorado Politics. "She'll be a great governor. She has the real-world experience and brings a different perspective on the challenge of inflation and crime and taxes."

Added Owens: "We've seen what one-party government brings to Colorado, and it's time to restore some checks and balances."

Democrats hold every statewide executive office in Colorado and control both chambers of the General Assembly.

Calling Owens a Republican leader and a "pioneer for conservative principles in Colorado," Ganahl said in a statement that she is honored to have his endorsement.

"It’s been far too long since we have had a Republican governor," she said in a text message. "Bill Owens has proven he can win, and I look forward to becoming our NEXT Republican governor."

A senior director at law firm Greenberg Traurig, Owens served two terms as governor from 1999 to 2007 after representing parts of Arapahoe County in the legislature and serving two terms as state treasurer.

Owens' endorsement isn't a surprise. He donated $500 to Ganahl's campaign in December, according to campaign finance reports.

Last month, Owens endorsed construction company owner Joe O'Dea in Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, who is seeking a third term. O'Dea is running against state Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Cañon City, for the nomination.

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