John Hickenlooper is running for U.S. Senate

John Hickenlooper launches his presidential campaign at Denver Civic Center on March 7, 2019 (Photo by Evan Semón)
John Hickenlooper launches his presidential campaign at Denver Civic Center on March 7, 2019. He will soon launch a new campaign — this time for the U.S Senate — according to several people close to him. (Photo by Evan Semón)

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.


  1. Of course there would be folks who support frackenlooper…BIG OIL AND GAS just loves the frackenlooper…BIG OIL and GAS are not friends of Colorado….frackenlooper looks more like a carpet bagger and a blue dog than a progressive Democrat…He may think he can just muscle into the race for the Senate because of name recognition, but we know that we recognize the name FRACKENLOOPER…Better than Gardner? my dog is better than gardner…so that is not a good argument for frackenlopper, the blue dog corporate flunky…

  2. The corporate political whore and his entitlement on full national display as another detrimental poster child for the Colorado Liberal… watse everyone’s time, money and effort for an illegitimate presidential “run”, then spend a week pushing non-stories to support an unnecessary effort to gauge public reaction (ie stroke his ego after learning the world defines him as an absolute joke), and now the run to keep his pockets and privelege full. He’s a garbage human being and an excellent example of the generational failures and self-serving motivations of the entrenched the corporate Colorado left, a history we should reject and attack as an unnecessary obstacle to evolution. Take your false promises, hoard ’em in your wallet next to your corporate donations, and shove it all.

  3. The guy is so dirty..From the Clements murder and cover up, to officer Donald Young being murdered by one of his employees..
    you deserve him Colorado..

  4. What Colorado deserves is the day when the only Republican holding any statewide elected office is Heidi Ganahl, and the incompetent currently residing in the White House is unceremoniously thrown out on his own petard. Red to purple to blue…

  5. I will vote for Cory Gardner, so will my wife. Gardner is not perfect, but he is better than have hickenlooper staying in politics as a US Senator. Keeps everything nice and balanced, with Bennet around pushing his lame agenda. Hickenlooper just wants a consulation prize, since he left office.

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