DENVER (CBS4) – Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is out of the presidential race but he may be entering Colorado’s U.S. Senate race. He made the announcement in a video where he discussed his decision.
In the video posted online, Hickenlooper said, “In almost every regard, this journey has been more exciting and more rewarding than I ever imagined although, of course, I did imagine a very different conclusion… People want to know what comes next for me. I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me of how much is at stake for our country and our state. I intend to give that some serious thought.”
Hickenlooper’s polling and fundraising numbers were weak and he wasn’t going to make the cut for the next debate. But,, he has rejected a Senate bid repeatedly saying he’s not “cut out” to be a Senator.
That hasn’t stopped supporters like Curtis Hubbard from pressuring him to get into the race. He and others set up the website DraftHickForSenate.com where they pleaded, “Run Hick, run!”
“The others (candidates) all have qualities that would make them good candidates but they’re not getting traction,” says Hubbard. “I think his brand of leadership and politics is what we need.”
But Mike Dino, one of Hickenlooper’s former campaign chairs, says Hickenlooper’s insistence that he’s not the right guy for Senate could hurt him, “That’s probably one of the only things I think he did say that doesn’t help him – is that it wasn’t something he’s fit to do or ready to do.”
Dino says Hickenlooper can get past the comments, but the crowded field won’t make it easy. More than a dozen Democrats are running for the Senate nomination and none have indicated they will drop out if Hickenlooper gets in.
“This will be his toughest campaign and he has to be ready for it,” says Dino.
Republican analyst Dick Wadhams assessment is more brutal, “I think Democrats will rue the day if they nominate him.”
Wadhams says a recent poll showing Hickenlooper winning the nomination is simply due to his name recognition. If he has to be dragged into a race that he sees as a consolation prize, Wadhams says, he will lose, “Governor Hickenlooper’s best day if he runs for Senate will be the day he announces because he’ll start off with a big lead and then other candidates are going to hold him accountable for his pro oil and gas positions, his refusal to deal with the death penalty while he was Governor. All the things that turn-off Democrats will emerge in that primary. Can he keep that lead? I think it’s questionable.”
Hickenlooper is getting pressure from outside Colorado to run for Senate, too. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has tapped him as the guy to beat incumbent Cory Gardner and hand Democrats control of the Senate. Both Wadhams and Dino say Coloradans won’t like a New Yorker in DC picking Colorado’s Senate nominee but the endorsement will help Hickenlooper raise much needed cash.
Wadhams and Dino also say while Gardner is vulnerable, it will take a formidable candidate to beat him.
Among the notable candidates in the race so far are Dan Baer, a former diplomat under President Barack Obama, Mike Johnston, a former State Senator who also ran for Governor, and Andrew Romanoff, a former Speaker of the Colorado House.
Romanoff released a statement hinting that Hickenlooper isn’t liberal enough to be the nominee. Romanoff supports the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. Hickenlooper doesn’t. His centrist philosophy didn’t fly on the national stage and it’s unclear if it still has wide appeal in a state that has changed a lot since Hickenlooper was last elected Governor.
Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet is still in the presidential race but if his fundraising and polling numbers don’t improve in the next couple weeks, he won’t make the third debate either.