Editor’s note: The morning after this story was published, Hickenlooper officially announced his candidacy. You can watch his announcement video here.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020, several sources with knowledge of his plans said Wednesday.
“Hick has been making calls to various elected officials telling them he’s running, and asking for their support,” said one Democratic insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Multiple people said his announcement is imminent.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat who served two terms as Denver mayor and another two as governor, ended his 2020 presidential bid last week, having failed to build momentum in fundraising, and having consistently polled in the bottom tier of the roughly two-dozen candidates. He said after dropping out that he would give a Senate run “serious thought.”
He also said repeatedly while campaigning for president that a job in the U.S. Senate does not appeal to him, and that he thinks he wouldn’t be an especially good senator because he prefers executive work.
“I’m not cut out to be a senator,” Hickenlooper said in February. “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups, which is important, right? But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”
But throughout his presidential campaign, many voters implored him on social media and otherwise to drop out and challenge Colorado’s first-term Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, in 2020. Gardner is considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable senators, and his seat is widely viewed as a must-flip for Democrats hoping to take back the Senate.
Although polling shows Gardner underwater in Colorado, many believe Gardner, who has close ties to the Trump administration and big business, should not be underestimated. Some think that Democrats need a heavy-hitter with high name recognition to challenge him in November 2020, though polling indicates any number of Democrats currently in the race could win.
Seeking a sure thing, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has pressed Hickenlooper to run, sources said.
“I know he’s been pushed very hard by Schumer, and by (Hickenlooper’s) wife,” said one source.
Other Democrats told The Independent that Hickenlooper — who was mocked nationally as a weak and somewhat naive presidential candidate — damaged his stock with his White House bid and will have to prove himself anew in the crowded Democratic primary race for the Senate.
While some close to the former governor confirmed that he has decided to run for Senate, other close to him would not confirm or deny. And some disputed that the former governor’s mind is made, saying they don’t want to get ahead of him on messaging.
Chris Gates, a senior advisor to Hickenlooper’s presidential race and a longtime friend and advisor, speaking by phone from Maine this afternoon, said: “I don’t think it’s a secret that there are folks all over Colorado who are urging him to consider this, and he is in fact considering it, and he was been talking to a lot of folks including current and former senators.”
Regarding Hickenlooper’s statements about his own lack of fit in the Senate, Gates added, “I’m sure he’ll address that when he makes his decision.”
Other candidates vying for Gardner’s seat include Alice Madden, Angela Williams, Andrew Romanoff, Mike Johnston, Dan Baer, John Walsh, Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio, Stephany Rose Spaulding, Michelle Ferrigno Warren and Diana Bray. Colorado is one of five states (Idaho, Indiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania) that have never elected a woman governor or U.S. senator.
Hickenlooper is not expected to clear the field. Numerous candidates, including Romanoff, Johnston and Madden, told The Independent this week they intend to stay in the race.