Hickenlooper announces Senate run after dropping out of White House race

Published: Aug. 22, 2019 at 4:58 AM MDT
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Just a week after announcing his departure from the packed field of Democratic presidential primary contenders, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced that he's set his eyes on a Senate bid instead. A video formally rolling out his campaign was released early Thursday.

"I've always said Washington was a lousy place for for a guy like me who wants to get things done but this is no time to walk away from the table," said Hickenlooper as he lined up a shot on a billiards table inside a bar, a likely nod to his Colorado brewery business past.

"I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot. I'm not done fighting for the people of Colorado."

Hickenlooper teased a Senate run in a video last week announcing the end of his presidential campaign.

In that video, he said, "I've heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country and our state."

Colorado is one of the top targets for Democrats in their effort to flip the Senate in 2020, and several polls (here and here) have found that Hickenlooper would field the most serious challenge to the GOP incumbent, Senator Cory Gardner.

Already, 11 Democratic candidates are running in the primary and will have to decide whether to rally behind Hickenlooper's bid. One of the Democratic candidates, state Senator Angela Williams, has signaled she will not. She released a statement on the day Hickenlooper ended his presidential bid saying, "He has a lot to explain to Colorado voters. This won't be a coronation."

The former speaker of the Colorado House, Andrew Romanoff, whose campaign has raised over $1 million this year, told CBS News that Colorado needs a leader who will fight for a Green New Deal and "Medicare for All." He did not mention Hickenlooper by name, but as a presidential candidate Hickenlooper opposed both ideas.

According to Federal Election Commission rules, Hickenlooper can transfer the cash he raised in his presidential bid to his Senate campaign. Hickenlooper reported $1.15 million in receipts during the second quarter and ended June with just over $830,000 cash on hand. Two candidates already in the race (Mike Johnston and "Dan For Colorado") each posted over $1 million in receipts in the second quarter.

Hickenlooper followed an unusual route into politics, beginning his professional life as a geologist with Buckhorn Petroleum in the 1980s. But the oil bust in the mid-'80s cost him his job in 1986. There were no jobs to be had in the oil industry, so Hickenlooper went into the brewpub business, opening the Wynkoop Brewing Co. The brewery was a success, and it made him a millionaire.

Hickenlooper was the second governor or former governor to announce a Democratic presidential bid, following Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee also dropped out of the 2020 presidential race and is rumored to be seeking a third term as Washington's governor.

Notably, Hickenlooper formally launched his bid on Gardner's 45th birthday.

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