DENVER — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced his Senate candidacy on Thursday, giving Democrats a widely known contender to take on a vulnerable GOP incumbent a week after Hickenlooper dropped out of the presidential race.
He will seek to challenge Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican seen as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in 2020.
“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 says in his campaign 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.”
Hickenlooper’s entry into the Colorado Senate race is a key get for Democrats who have been struggling to recruit candidates in their effort to win control of the Senate in 2020.
While his national profile and experience as the state’s former chief executive make him the favorite to be the eventual Democrat nominee, Hickenlooper will first have to win the Democratic primary, as more than a dozen candidates from his party have thrown their names into the ring.
The former governor ended his 2020 presidential bid last week after failing to break out of the crowded field of Democratic candidates. Hickenlooper’s moderate message struggled to gain traction, and he faced the possibility of not making the next Democratic debate in September. His campaign also lost three of its most senior staffers in early July.
Hickenlooper was initally resistant to running for Senate, spending the first few months of his presidential campaign knocking the idea. But he met with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer last month and signaled that his interest in the race had changed.
Early Thursday morning, before his formal announcement, Hickenlooper’s Senate website was already posted with the homepage reading: “I’m running to give Colorado’s priorities and values a voice in Washington.”