John Hickenlooper Says He Is Running in 2020, Citing a ‘Crisis of Division’

John Hickenlooper Says He Is Running in 2020, Citing a ‘Crisis of Division’

DENVER — John Hickenlooper, the two-time Colorado governor and former brewpub owner who has overseen Colorado’s remarkable economic expansion, declared his candidacy for president on Monday.

Mr. Hickenlooper, 67, a socially progressive, pro-business Democrat who has called himself an “extreme moderate,” had long said he was considering a run, and made early visits to Iowa and New Hampshire. His biggest challenge will be distinguishing himself in what is sure to be a packed field of potentially history-making candidates and deep-pocketed household names.

In his announcement, on “Good Morning America,” he said the nation had entered a “crisis of division.”

“I think it’s probably the worst period of division we’ve had in this country since the Civil War,” he said. “Ultimately I’m running for president because I believe that not only can I beat Donald Trump, but that I am the person that can bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done. The division is keeping us from addressing big issues like climate change and the soaring costs of health care.”

Mr. Hickenlooper said he planned to run as a “pragmatic progressive,” a candidate with extensive executive experience in a primary field of senators. He also suggested that his childhood as a self-declared nerd had prepared him for an electoral battle against the president.

“As a skinny kid with Coke-bottle glasses and a funny last name,” he said in a campaign video released on Monday, with the Rocky Mountains as his backdrop, “I’ve stood up to my fair share of bullies.”

Mr. Hickenlooper joins 13 others who have already announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination, and the next few weeks could bring several other moderates into the race, including Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Even Mr. Hickenlooper’s own former chief of staff, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, is thinking of entering the race.

As governor from 2011 until he reached his term limits in 2019, Mr. Hickenlooper employed a careful, consensus-building approach that won him praise from both sides of the aisle and helped him guide Colorado out of a recession and through a series of floods, wildfires and mass shootings in the first years of his tenure. When he left office in January, his state had one of the nation’s best economies.

He had also signed a contentious gun control package that included universal background checks, and helped Colorado become the first state in the nation to enact methane capture requirements, a measure he has said was equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off the road every year.

[Who’s in, who’s out, who’s thinking about it. Check out our presidential candidate tracker.]

But even in Colorado, fellow Democrats have expressed skepticism that his signature low-key approach will translate to national success.

“I don’t think John has at all defined why he is running,” said Rick Ridder, a political strategist and longtime friend of Mr. Hickenlooper. “There are very few people I know who wake up and want to go caucus to support a raging moderate.”

Gary Hart, the former Colorado senator and Democratic presidential candidate, predicted that Mr. Hickenlooper would appeal to primary voters because “he does not have a lot of pretensions.” But Mr. Hart noted that the candidate would have to harden his stances fast, in order to attract the most passionate party activists in the run-up to the primaries.

“They’re also going to say: ‘Fine, governor, I’m glad you can reach across the aisle, now what’s your stance on abortion?’” Mr. Hart said.

(Mr. Hickenlooper supports abortion rights, though it has not been a central issue for him.)

The former governor will kick off his campaign with a rally in Denver on Thursday, then travel to Iowa on Friday and Saturday.

Mr. Hickenlooper grew up in Narberth, Pa., outside Philadelphia. His father was a floor manager in a steel fabrication plant who died after an extended battle with cancer when Mr. Hickenlooper was 8. His mother, who attended Vassar College on scholarship, raised four children on her own.

Mr. Hickenlooper moved to Colorado in 1981 to work as a geologist in the oil industry. After a layoff, he opened a downtown Denver brewpub, eventually expanding to 15 pubs and restaurants, mostly in the Midwest.

Soon, he was helping to reshape Denver’s dilapidated core. By 2003 he was mayor; in 2007 he won re-election with 87 percent of the vote. During his tenure, Denver expanded pre-K to every 4-year-old in the city.

He ran for governor and won in 2011. In that position, Mr. Hickenlooper pushed through Medicaid expansion under a divided legislature, and signed the gun control package, a major shift for the state. Colorado also gained national attention when Mr. Hickenlooper helped the state establish a national model for recreational marijuana regulation, despite his personal opposition to legalization.

But progressives in the state reserve much of their criticism for his environmental legacy, arguing that he has not gone far enough in regulating the state’s powerful oil and gas industry.

In recent years, some residents have faulted him for failing to push well projects out of their neighborhoods. (Mr. Hickenlooper has been so eager to promote the industry that he once drank fracking fluid.)

“He has allowed oil and gas to run roughshod over communities,” said Sara Loflin, a Democrat and the executive director of the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans. “I think in the face of climate change, I’m looking for a president and a nominee that is a little stronger on the environment.”

The governor, a lanky, guitar-playing, twice-married father of a teenage boy, has long been considered the state’s geek in chief, often running gimmicky advertisements in which he makes himself the butt of a joke. He once showered in a business suit for a political ad in which he swore off dirty politics.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Hickenlooper, Lauren Hitt, said that the governor learned long ago how to make bullies feel uncertain, and she compared a potential Hickenlooper-Trump election to “a ‘Revenge of the Nerds’-type situation.”

Mr. Hickenlooper formed a political action committee, called Giddy Up, in September, and has been traveling to primary states for several months.

Last March, when a reporter visited his office and asked if he was running for president, he said he wasn’t sure yet.

“It’s kind of weird,” he said. “It’s just, uh, if you told, you asked any of the people I went to college with, ‘Who would be the least likely person to be at any level in elected office?’ It would have been me.”

Source link

About The Author

Momizat Team specialize in designing WordPress themes ... Momizat Team specialize in designing WordPress themes

Related posts

Leave a Reply