Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) found no traction in the 2020 presidential race, so he dropped out just last week. He never really had a shot in that race, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) begged him to run for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, where Hickenlooper is popular and would stand a good chance at unseating Sen. Cory Gardner. On Thursday, Hickenlooper jumped into the Senate race. Yet in doing so, he broke his previous promises that he would not run.
“Look, I’m a straight shooter. I’ve always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who wants to get things done. But this is no time for walking away from the table. I know changing Washington is hard but I want to give it a shot,” Hickenlooper said in his campaign ad/launch video. “I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado. I’m John Hickenlooper, candidate for United States Senate.”
Polls suggest Hickenlooper is a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. According to a poll published days before he dropped out of the presidential race, the former governor enjoyed the support of a whopping 61 percent of likely Democratic voters, 51 points ahead of his nearest competition. With about a dozen Democrats in the race, it is unlikely any one of them consolidates support against Hickenlooper.
State Sen. Angela Williams warned him to stay out of the race last week, saying, “If he’s going to switch gears and run for the senate, he has a lot to explain to Colorado voters. This won’t be a coronation.”
It likely will be a coronation, but Williams was correct in saying Hick has some explaining to do.
In February, the former governor told Politico, “I’m not cut out to be a senator. Senators don’t build [administrative] 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.”
Just last month, he said the Senate was not “my calling.”
“If I think of what God wants me to do, if there’s a beam of light coming down from heaven, what it’s illuminating for me is taking the things I’ve done, putting teams of really unique individual skills, and putting those teams together so that we really take on the big challenges of this country and of this world,” Hickenlooper said.
The presidential candidate said his strengths lie in assembling people into teams to get things done, rather than debating and legislating. “This is all stuff a senator doesn’t get to do,” he told the crowd at a campaign meet-and-greet.
So, what changed? Did Hick have aa change of heart? Did he get his “beam of light coming down from heaven?” Or are his promises and his self-assessment unreliable?
A recent poll found Hickenlooper 13 points ahead of Gardner, but if Hick’s fellow Democrats point out how unreliable he is, Gardner might just eke out a win against the failed presidential candidate in November 2020. He may be a shoo-in for the primary, but the other Democrats might weaken him up for the general election.
Democrats see Hickenlooper entering the race as a boon to their chances to retake the U.S. Senate, but that hope may be premature.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.