Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate Thursday, one week after ending his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’ve always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who knows how to get things done — but this is no time to walk away from the table,” Hickenlooper said in an announcement video. “We ought to be working together to move this country forward and stop the political nonsense. I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot. I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado.”
Over the course of his presidential campaign, Hickenlooper tried to ease speculation and rumors that he would run for the seat in his home state, repeatedly telling reporters he is “not cut out” for the job.
Things changed last week, however, when Hickenlooper discussed with staff and Democratic leaders — including the state’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who is still seeking the party’s presidential nomination — the possibility of switching over from running for president to launching a Senate campaign against the state’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
Hickenlooper’s entrance into the race is a big recruit for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in courting candidates to run against Republican incumbents and in open-seat races. While Hickenlooper failed to gain much traction in the presidential race, almost certain to miss the next round of debates, he is coming off the 2020 trail with enhanced name recognition and access to new donors to help fund his Senate campaign.
Many perceive Gardner as one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents up for reelection next year, holding a seat in a state that has been trending increasingly blue in recent years. Even before deciding to jump into the race, Hickenlooper, who was a popular moderate governor for much of the last decade, decisively led the relatively crowded field in the state’s Democratic primary for the Senate nomination, setting up what will likely be a competitive match-up against two powerhouse candidates next fall.
Other 2020 Democrats are facing pressure to drop out of the presidential race and run for the Senate in their own states, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. O’Rourke has qualified for the next round of Democratic debates slated to occur in Houston next month. Bullock is almost certain to miss the donor and polling threshold to qualify.