Hickenlooper for President Rumors Resurface for 2020

How about a President John Hickenlooper?

How about a President John Hickenlooper?

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was often mentioned in the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential Primaries as a potential Democratic candidate for the top job in the land.

As a popular Governor from a swing state, Hickenlooper’s name has been mentioned as a Presidential candidate numerous times over the past six years (here’s one from 2013, and here’s a mention from 2011). Hickenlooper was also reportedly a consideration for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, a job that ultimately went to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (though Hick did get a big-time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention as something of a consolation prize).

Because it’s never too early to talk about the next election, Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” offered up his top guesses for potential Democratic Presidential candidates in 2020. Guess who made the list?

Gov. John Hickenlooper: The Colorado governor was almost Clinton’s vice-presidential pick this time around. And in a field filled with Washington types, the governor of a swing state in the West could have real appeal. Hickenlooper also has a terrific life story — a Denver brewery owner who became mayor and governor — and a down-home demeanor that screams, “I am not a politician.” Hickenlooper’s biggest problem as a candidate may be that he is viewed as too moderate for the current Democratic Party. But some governor (Missouri’s Jay Nixon? Delaware’s Jack Markell?) will run for president, and, at the moment, Hickenlooper seems first among equals for that role.

Cillizza’s early list is very much preliminary and has already been changed to include several more names. Hickenlooper is an obvious name to include on an early 2020 list — as Cillizza wrote, “some governor will run for president” — but is it a real possibility?

Seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination certainly makes more sense for Hickenlooper in 2020 than it did in 2016. The most obvious reason, of course, is that Hick is term-limited in 2018 and will have plenty of time on his hands. Running in 2016 never seemed likely, both because Clinton was essentially entrenched as the Democratic nominee and because Hick had just been re-elected to a second term in 2014.

In the debut episode of The Get More Smarter Show in May, we asked Hickenlooper about how seriously he might have considered seeking the Presidency in 2016. Hick was not shy about expressing his concern in first making it through a partisan primary (question begins around the 13:20 mark):

“I’m the type of person — a small business guy who’s really not a traditional politician. I wouldn’t do well in a primary.”

It is true that Hickenlooper’s moderate image would not have been ideal for seeking the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination — which is a point we’ve made in this space before — but 2020 could be a different story. Hickenlooper was much more active as a partisan surrogate for Democratic candidates in the last election cycle, and he has two more years as governor to demonstrate a more liberal agenda that could interest potential primary voters. Add to this the fact that the 2020 field should be fairly wide-open (barring the outcome of recounts, of course), and a potential Hickenlooper Presidential run makes more sense than it ever did before.

We’d still guess that a Hickenlooper run for President is unlikely, but much depends on how he decides to position himself for his remaining years as Governor and what kind of outreach (and response) he might garner from the chattering/donor class in the next 12-18 months. After all — a President Hickenlooper wouldn’t be more of a surprise than a President Donald Trump.

33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    IMO, Hick proved with that prime time speaking slot that he's not presidential material. He's a good guy overall but he doesn't have the gravitas.

  2. Nasty WomanNasty Woman says:

    He will be too old.  Someone in their fifties in 2020 should be running.

  3. Big Time says:

    Hick/Castro 2020 … Hickenlooper should at least run and see what happens. 

    • DavieDavie says:

      As far as positioning vis-a-vis reelecting Trump (assuming he hasn't been impeached and there hasn't been a military coup), it would be sanity vs. insanity in most people's minds.

  4. ZappateroZappatero says:

    Hickenlooper is an idiot, but Michael Bennet thanks you for sticking with trivia while completely ignoring his complacency about what just happened to this nation. Bennet probably subscribes this theory given to us by Frank Bruni of the NY Times:

    Frank Bruni did. He is actually suggesting that maybe if we just constantly debase ourselves, that if we praise Donald Trump effusively and continuously, then we just might have a chance. Call it the Fellatio Principle of strategic influence.

    Gessen knows better:

    We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right [emphasis added]. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge. We know what my great-grandfather did not know: that the people who wanted to keep the people fed ended up compiling lists of their neighbors to be killed. That they had a rationale for doing so. And also, that one of the greatest thinkers of their age judged their actions as harshly as they could be judged.

    Armed with that knowledge, or burdened with that legacy, we have a slight chance of making better choices. As Trump torpedoes into the presidency, we need to shift from realist to moral reasoning. That would mean, at minimum, thinking about the right thing to do, now and in the imaginable future. It is also a good idea to have a trusted friend capable of reminding you when you are about to lose your sense of right and wrong.

    In short, you can try to appease an authoritarian, and it might work (but it might not). Or you can act morally, and that might not work (but it might). Gessen is saying that there is no way of knowing what will be more effective, but that it is quite clear which is the more moral choice. Go with that.

  5. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    No one in their right mind would encourage Hick, a Hillary Clinton clone, to run. Another corporate toad…really? 

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      I'm in my right mind and I think Hick should seriously consider it.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        Thanks for making my point. 


        I'm in my right mind 

        First…your claim is presumptuous on its face. There is evidence that indicates otherwise..

        Second…it should be pretty clear that anyone who meets your criteria is not a progressive. Hick is a mendacious, corporation loving, self-aggrandizing, political opportunist.

        President??…oh, please stop…it hurts to laugh so hard.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Anyone who wants a far left wing individual as the Dem presidential candidate in 2020 isn't thinking clearly. This is a center-right country. Hickenlooper meets the criteria of being a common sense candidate, if he decides to run.

          Of course, no one to the right of Che Guevara will please the small minority that is the far left wing here in Colorado. Regarding Colorado specific, how did that single payer ballot initiative work out for the far left? Hint: 79% of the voters opposed it.

          • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

            Common sense is a useless term. It is entirely subjective and easily supplanted by relentless propaganda (read: advocacy journalism) by the hard right, which has no moral base. Truth is anathema to the right side of the political spectrum, which will stoop to any means to enrich its leaders, entrench itself as the power base, and maintain control of the dominant narrative.

            Naomi Klein was right. The dynamic that is the "Free Market Experiment" cannot be won by the right within the confines of a democracy. But, now that we have become a kleptocracy, they have won. The path forward is very likely to contain increased need and misery for many Americans…particularly those whose skin and religion don't meet the approval of the NASCAR set.


            It is my fondest hope that I am wrong, and President Trump will not allow the demise of Medicaid..will not slash my Medicare benefits…will not take health care away from millions of people…will not gut the EPA…will not give millions of acres of public land to wealthy private interests…will not say "fuck your drinking water… drill, baby, drill", and all those anti-human policies the rabid right you so staunchly support want to impose on the rest of us.

            People like you will thrive on the misery of millions. You must be, oh, so proud.

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              Take your meds, Duke, and calm down. Never have I said anywhere on Pols that I support "the rabid right." In fact, I tend to make fun of them and work in the trenches of my choice to undermine what that faction tries to do. And the kleptocracy has come from both sides of the spectrum; Adelson and the Koch brothers balanced out by Soros and Steyer.

              As for Trump and Ryan having a mandate, recall with me that his margin of victory in Michigan and Wisconsin each was under 1%. Margin of victory in Florida and Pennsylvania was well under 2%. 

              • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                I don't take meds, CHB….and I am quite calm. Your dismissal of my comments as a rant is a common dodge used by you and the rest of Trump Nation. Whether you say you support them or not, you identify yourself as a conservative…so do they…

                That makes you one of them.

                Are you telling me you didn't vote for Trump?



                And the kleptocracy has come from both sides of the spectrum; Adelson and the Koch brothers balanced out by Soros and Steyer. 

                this is completely ridiculous.

                • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                  I voted for Hillary, Duke, as the best qualified candidate of the two major parties. I made my intention amply clear on other threads. Of course, you can choose not to believe me, but that's not my problem. My conscience is clear regardless.

                  Yes, times as a Republican can be tough. But I was raised as a conservative; a compassionate conservative at that; by parents and grandparents who all lived by the Golden Rule (not the rule that says whoever has the gold makes the rules). Your comment that my thought about the kleptocracy coming from both sides is ridiculous doesn't change the fact that I'm right. Personally, I'd love to see Citizens United overturned so that the dark money from both left and right enters into the light of day.

                  • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                    Please accept my sincere apology, CHB.

                    I have not been following comments as closely as I should have been, and I have mistaken you for someone you are obviously not. 

                    I apologize for my impugning of your character.

                    As to the kleptocracy thing…it is a matter of scale.

                    Work and music consume me just now so I have little time for this asylum…

                    Keep Calm and Carry On…

                    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                      Apology accepted. These are stressful times, especially for those of us who want a healthy environment, and who love the public lands and the freedom that they offer. Whether one is of the left persuasion, or one is a traditional Republican conservationist, we all have our work to do in the next 4 years.

                      Enjoy your music. Ever sample the late & great jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery? 

                    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                      jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery 

                      No I haven't. but upon your recommendation…I will. Thanks.

                    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                      Wes died unexpectedly of a heart attack in fall, 1968, at age 43. I know of him because he was from Indianapolis, my home town. His sound was unique as he did not use a guitar pick, but rather the flat of his thumb. Herb Alpert had just signed him to his A & M record label and Wes was starting to break out of just the jazz area when he died. The family has been releasing older material the past few years. Check him out on YouTube to see if you like.

  6. cologeek says:

    Hick would never make it past the primaries.  Governor of a fly over state with relatively moderate views and a business owner?  His campaign would be DOA with the current Democratic party.

  7. Gray in Mountains says:

    I think Hick might enjoy success. Pot, homelessness, guns…

    I'd prefer someone more liberal and still rational 

  8. cbjim says:

    Vomit bag please.

  9. ohwilleke says:

    Hick is a better potential Presidential candidate than anyone else on the Washington Post list.

  10. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    I'm thinking Amy Klobuchar.  A qualified woman without Hillary's baggage.

    • Civics101 says:

      John Hickenlooper will never be a serious contender, for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he will have his Nathan Dunlap non-decision to thank for that.  It has left people with the impression Hickenlooper is indecisive.

      Unlike some other death penalty cases, the guilt of the Chuck E. Cheese mass murder has never been in question.  He left a live witness.  He showed no remorse at the time of his arrest or trial.  A jury had no problem finding him guilty and sentencing him to the death penalty.

      The expense of state and federal appeals has already been paid and the higher courts found no legitimate grounds to overturn Dunlap's conviction or call for a new trial.  It doesn't get any easier than that. 

      But Hickenlooper blinked and punted.  These are not qualities people are looking for in the POTUS.  His Democratic primary opponents would eat him alive over this waffling and it would effectively end his presidential run.

      It also didn't help that he thought, as governor, he had the right to approve, or disapprove, what cases the state's attorney general could file.  Forget that Hickenlooper is not a lawyer.  His "you need my permission first" attitude toward Colorado's female attorney general came across as stunningly patronizing… and without any legal foundation.  Both Hickenlooper and Cynthia Coffman are elected statewide officials, who operate independently of one another.  Neither works under the other.  This political slight would not set well with Democratic voters.     

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Hick vs. C. Coffman: She shouldn't have tried to sue the Feds without her governor's permission. She was out of line. And I'm not a Hick supporter, usually.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Nathan Dunlap would be a non-factor in 2020. Dunlap is still in prison, unlike Willie Horton who got released in the 1980s and committed more crimes. As for the so-called political slight between Hick and Coffman, I don't think that is a large enough issue to hold voters' attention span into next year, let alone hold it until 2020.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        The water pipes in hell have burst after a hard freeze, for Civvy and I agree on Hicks non-decision on Dunlop.  I support the death penalty where there is no doubt of guilt and where the aggravation outweighs the mitigation beyond a reasonable doubt as defined by statute.   This isn't abstract, I was actually foreman of a death penalty jury, five weeks of my life that I will never get back.

        There are people who are categorically opposed to the death penalty and I can respect their opinion.   Had Hickenlooper, like the Pope, simply said it is always wrong for the state to take a life I could respect his opinion.   But he didn't.

        He just said Dunlop gets a pass while I'm in office but if the next governor wants to execute him, I'm cool with that.   I don't think either side of the death penalty debate respects that non decision.

        Sometimes, governor, you have to sing or get out of the shower.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          So the governor makes hundreds of decisions in his eight years in office and both of you seem to think that one decision you disagree with will kill any chances of being a viable candidate for President in 2020. Really?!?

          I think he will be remembered far more for bringing on a representative of the outdoor recreation industry to serve on his staff. Last time I checked, outdoor recreation generates over 13 billion dollars in Colorado's economy, provides over 124,000 jobs, and generates almost a billion dollars in tax revenue for the state and local economies. I think the Governor will be remembered far more for this and many other positive things than his decision not to execute some guy.

          • VoyageurVoyageur says:

            It wasn't a decision to execute or not execute.   It was a decision to try and have it both ways, a decision not to make a decision, a decision to avoid taking a stand.   That, alas, is all too common "both ways hick" and yes, it will haunt him.   On the other hand, who knew that Hick was personally responsible for $13 billion just by adding one guy on his staff.  Maybe he should add ten to his staff and add $130 billion to the economy.   How easy this governorship thing is.

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              V: I didn't say that the Governor was personally responsible for the 13 billion. But he is smart in recognizing the impact of outdoor recreation on the state's economy. And he's been decent on the pro-conservation & environment issues since becoming governor.

              As for Dunlap "haunting" him, in your mind, yes. In my mind, no.

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