Hickenlooper bus rolls into Idaho Springs

IDAHO SPRINGS — People began gathering at least 30 to 40 minutes early in and around a small storefront in Idaho Springs Wednesday evening.

The Hickenlooper campaign bus was expected soon. The bus drove slowly past the Majestic Building on historic Miner Street before turning a corner and moving away from the assembled fans.

A campaign aide assured those on the sidewalk out front that the bus would be back soon, but that the Democratic candidate for governor was going to visit people at a restaurant up the street first.

Denver Mayor and candidate for governor John Hickenlooper greets fans in Idaho Springs Wednesday evening. Photo by Scot Kersgaard.

It’s been like that for days, months really. The bus–or in earlier days a car or two–rolls across the state. People gather early and wait.

Sometimes the bus includes a reporter or two, even a reporter from the Philadelphia Enquirer was along for the ride a few days ago.

From that article:

DENVER, Colo. – There are many Colorados. And John Hickenlooper wants to be governor of them all. In this idiosyncratic state, this idiosyncratic son of Pennsylvania has followed up his roles as leading entrepreneur, new-look Democrat, and mayor of Denver with a run at the state’s top office.

Hickenlooper, 58, has leaned into a vicious election year in storky, flaky fashion, and the best-known bad haircut (chopped-off bangs) in the state. He’s also known for nutty ads – leaping out of airplanes, dressing as a dancing blue bear, and, this season, taking a shower fully clothed.

“I used eight different suits filming that thing,” he said. “It was low-grade waterboarding.” It was also vintage, self-deprecating “Hick.”

But the sopping would-be governor drives a point: Negative ads make him “feel like I need to take a shower,” and he won’t resort to them – a move to frame the campaign and blunt opponents’ attacks. In this unpredictable state, Hickenlooper’s unpredictability might be his best weapon.

In Idaho Springs, State Treasurer Cary Kennedy warms the crowd up for John Hickenlooper.

Kennedy herself is in a tight race and does a little politicking of her own, letting people know that as the state’s manager of finances, she was able to keep Colorado’s money safe during years when some states lost money as the economy struggled and banks and investment houses failed.

She says Hickenlooper is the man to lead an economic recovery, and will do so while also protecting Colorado’s environment.

Hickenlooper in turn tells the crowd–including a dozen or so people sitting around a table stuffing envelopes with “get out the vote” exhortations–that Kennedy is the best state treasurer in the country.

“We have to redefine how we approach business in this state,” he says. “We can’t do it independently but only by working together.”

Hickenlooper says Republicans and Democrats must come together to work for the good of the state. It’s a message he repeats at nearly every stop.

He says the state must find ways to enable businesses to grow and hire more people while also protecting the environment. “There can be no compromise in protecting the quality of life that people moved here for–but we have to remember that for most people quality of life begins with a good job.”

He reiterates his commitment to running a positive campaign–with no attack ads. “You don’t see General Motors running attack ads against Toyota.”

He said attack ads may work in the short term but that in the long run they divide people and make it harder for people to come together later for the good of the state.

Hickenlooper said that if he wins, he thinks it will be the first time in at least 30 years that anyone has won statewide election in Colorado without running negative ads.

“This is not over on election day. That is when we begin to bring people together to build the economy and protect the environment. We need Republicans, Democrats and Independents to all work together,” he said.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.