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Hickenlooper Drops Presidential Bid, Considers Senate Run in Colorado

John Pemble/IPR file
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has dropped his bid for the presidency amid calls for him to instead run for the U.S. Senate.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has dropped out of the race for the White House. Hickenlooper had been struggling to break through in the crowded field of some two dozen contenders and was unlikely to qualify for the upcoming third round of debates. He ended his campaign amid calls for him to instead run for the U.S. Senate.

On the campaign trail in Iowa and across the country, John Hickenlooper presented himself as a moderate with executive experience as a former mayor of Denver and former governor of Colorado, a track record he said he could use to win over Republicans voters and members of Congress.

He repeatedly criticized fellow Democratic candidates for their more liberal policies, which he characterized as a shift toward “socialism” that he said could alienate voters. He made that point from the stage at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids in June.

“We must be progressive but also pragmatic. We need a dreamer but also a doer. We must present a bold vision for the future but we must also acknowledge that the most effective attack the Republicans can level against us is one of socialism,” Hickenlooper said.

In a video released Thursday morning announcing the end of his campaign, Hickenlooper said partisanship has derailed the country.


“I ran for president because this country is being ripped apart by politics and partisan games while our biggest problems go unsolved,” Hickenlooper said. “Now today I’m ending my campaign for president but I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together.”

Democrats at the state and national level, as well as his own campaign staffers have been urging Hickenlooper to abandon his run for the White House and challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, who’s running for re-election in 2020. Back in July, some of Hickenlooper’s staff members quit his campaign and called on him to drop out and try for Congress instead.

In his announcement video, Hickenlooper referenced Colorado’s efforts to expand healthcare coverage, implement gun control policies and boost the state’s economy, and he acknowledged he’s seriously considering a run for Senate.

“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 of how much is at stake for our country and our state. I intend to give that some serious thought,” Hickenlooper said.

If Hickenlooper were to launch a Senate bid he would face a competitive primary. But some polling has shown he could have an edge over the field. According to reporting by the Denver Post, he would have a 51 point lead over other Democrats.

Hickenlooper is not the only one in the crowded Democratic presidential field who could run for Senate instead. Some Democrats have called on Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Steve Bullock of Montana to do the same thing, as the party sets its eyes on retaking the chamber in 2020.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter