DENVER (CN) – While he won’t be challenging President Donald Trump for the White House, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper launched a bid Thursday for U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s seat on Capitol Hill.
Hickenlooper jumped in the Senate race less than a week after bowing out of the Democratic presidential primary. His reason for running? He said it’s what the people wanted.
“For the last six months, I’ve listened to Fpeople from all over the country talk about their hopes, dreams and concerns for our future. Again and again I heard about health care, I heard about jobs. I heard about the same issues from my friends and neighbors here at home,” Hickenlooper explained in a statement. “But I also heard: ‘What about the Senate?’”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Hickenlooper moved west in 1981. Within five years and after being laid off from his job as a geologist, he taught himself business and opened a thriving brewery.
In 2003, Hickenlooper stepped into politics and was elected mayor of Denver. He later served two terms as governor of Colorado, touting among his achievements securing health care for 95% of the population, growing the number one economy in the country, and requiring background checks for gun licenses.
“Here in Colorado, we’re a model for the nation on expanding access to health care, combating gun violence and actually taking action on climate change – yet we’re represented in Washington by a senator who votes 99% of the time with Donald Trump and goes along with Mitch McConnell’s obstruction and partisan political games,” Hickenlooper said of the incumbent Gardner.
The Federal Election Commission reported Gardner’s re-election campaign has raised $6.6 million. He is endorsed by the Koch Network-funded political action group Americans for Prosperity.
In elections past, Colorado was proud to be represented by one Democrat and one Republican in the U.S. Senate, but the tide has turned following the 2018 midterm blue wave.
Among Hickenlooper’s supporters is the Washington-based pro-science political organization 314 Action. For the 2020 election cycle, 314 Action Fund expects to raise more than $20 million to help elect Democratic candidates with science backgrounds nationwide.
“We organized the ‘Draft Hickenlooper’ effort to demonstrate the strong support we knew existed for a Hickenlooper campaign in the hopes that the governor would continue to serve Colorado and the country as a candidate for U.S. Senate,” said 314 Action president Shaughnessy Naughton in a statement. “With Governor Hickenlooper in the race, we have a stronger chance to flip the Senate and take real action on climate change.”
According to a 314 Action-sponsored poll of 739 Coloradans conducted by Public Policy Polling, Hickenlooper could enter the race 13 points ahead of Gardner.
Nevertheless, the 67-year old has left one competitive race for another. A whopping 16 Democratic candidates are vying for Gardner’s seat, with former state Senator Michael Johnston leading the fundraising at $3.3 million according to the FEC. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is also running a very aggressive campaign to unseat Gardner.
Asked to comment on Hickenlooper’s run, Romanoff only underscored his own platform.
“We’re running out of time to rescue our planet, repair our democracy, and restore the American Dream. We need leaders who will fight for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and an economy that works for everyone,” Romanoff said. “That’s the kind of senator I will be.”