UPDATE: As the New York Times reports, Hick is sure looking like a Senate candidate:
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is in discussions about ending his presidential bid and entering the race for his state’s Republican-held Senate seat, potentially giving Democrats a strong candidate in a race they must win to have hopes of retaking the chamber in 2021, according to four Democrats familiar with his thinking.
Mr. Hickenlooper, who is mired at the bottom of public polling of the presidential race, hopped into Senator Michael Bennet’s car on Friday night in this Northern Iowa town to discuss his impending decision, said Democrats familiar with the discussion, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential talks.
The two drove around Clear Lake for about 20 minutes ahead of the Wing Ding dinner, a Democratic fund-raiser that drew 21 presidential candidates. Aides and advisers to the two men, who have been both allies and rivals over their careers in Colorado politics, declined to reveal what was discussed.
As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:
“I think there’s one candidate who can beat Cory Gardner and send (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell into the minority and it’s John Hickenlooper,” said Josh Morrow, the 314 Action Fund’s executive director…
“I just see this as doing a greater service to the country,” Morrow said of running for Senate, “than running for president and being president.”
The 314 Action Fund also paid for a poll of 739 Colorado voters, conducted Aug. 8-11 by Public Policy Polling, that found Hickenlooper leading Gardner in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, 51% to 38%. The margin of error was 3.6%.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper polling over the 50% threshold as a hypothetical candidate against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner in this latest poll from Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling only reinforces the psychological effect of yesterday’s poll showing Hickenlooper over 50% versus the next-best Democratic primary candidate at only 10% support. There’s just no way anyone else in the running today can compete with Gov. Hickenlooper’s overwhelmingly high name in-state name ID and popularity if he decides to get into the U.S. Senate race.
As for the other candidates, including one with a pre-existing relationship with 314 Action Fund as the Post reports today, this turn of events isn’t personal–though it is certainly disappointing to those hopefuls. There was always the possibility that a higher-order candidate would emerge, if not Hickenlooper than with member(s) of Congress whose names came and went. The path for Democrats to retaking the U.S. Senate in 2020 is exceedingly narrow and can afford to leave nothing to chance. That being the case, the best choice by far is the one that minimizes risks.
Every single indicator we have today says that’s John Hickenlooper.