2020 Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper is in talks with campaign staff and other Democratic power players about ending his run for the White House to pursue a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado.
The New York Times reported that while in Iowa, the former Colorado governor hopped into the car of 2020 rival and the state’s current Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to discuss the possibility of launching a bid for the state’s Republican-held seat against Sen. Cory Gardner.
Hickenlooper has struggled to garner significant support in the crowded presidential primary field of Democratic candidates since launching his campaign earlier this year. Hickenlooper, who is certain to miss the next two Democratic debates in September and October, is not even listed in RealClearPolitics’ aggregate of polls.
Despite the reports of a possible drop-out, Roll Call reported Hickenlooper is still fundraising for his presidential campaign in a long-shot effort to reach the 130,000 unique donor threshold to qualify for the next round of debates.
Bennet, who served as Hickenlooper’s chief of staff while the latter was mayor of Denver, endorsed the idea of a Hickenlooper Senate run in his home state, telling MSNBC Wednesday morning that Hickenlooper would be a ripe candidate for the job.
“He was a phenomenal governor. … He was a phenomenal mayor, so I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be a phenomenal senator, but he’s got to make his own decisions,” Bennet said.
A Hickenlooper run for the Senate seat in Colorado would also be welcome news to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in recruiting candidates to run for Senate seats up for election next year. With a raised national profile from his presidential run, Hickenlooper would likely enter the Senate race as Colorado’s front-runner. According to a poll from the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group conducted late last month, Hickenlooper already leads the field, 51 percentage points ahead of the other Democratic candidates.
Hickenlooper has previously tried to tone down speculation of an impending Senate run, telling Politico in Iowa back in February, “I’m not cut out to be a senator.” The former governor repeated the claim that he is not “cut out” for the Senate at Texas’ South by Southwest festival in March. “I respect senators. Some of my best friends are senators. I don’t think I’m cut out for that,” he said.
Hickenlooper’s decision to drop out of the presidential race to run for Senate would mirror that of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in 2016. Rubio pledged not to run for reelection in Florida after ending his bid for the GOP presidential nomination but ultimately reversed his decision later that year and won a second term.