Democrat John Hickenlooper announces campaign for Senate after exit from crowded presidential field

"I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot," Hickenlooper said in his announcement video

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 22, 2019 10:06AM (EDT)

John Hickenlooper (Getty/Alex Wong)
John Hickenlooper (Getty/Alex Wong)

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race last week, is going to run for the Senate seat currently held by incumbent Republican Cory Gardner.

"Look, I'm a straight shooter. 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 . . . I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot," Hickenlooper said in his campaign announcement video.

According to the video, the former Colorado governor plans to focus his campaign on fighting climate change, lowering prescription drug prices and addressing public land issues.

These are similar to the themes that Hickenlooper identified as important when he ended his presidential campaign last week.

"Today, I’m ending my campaign for president. But I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together," Hickenlooper said in a statement. "Don’t tell me that we can’t figure out how to lower prescription drug costs or tackle climate change. Don’t tell me we have to accept the number of gun deaths or the reduced job prospects of too many Americans."

Last month, Hickenlooper spoke to Salon about his struggling presidential campaign and said that he did not plan on running for the Senate.

"Luckily, there are three incredible — or more than three, there are now, I think, six — very talented candidates running for the Senate seat in Colorado. And I fully expect we're going to defeat Mitch McConnell," Hickenlooper told Salon at the time.

He added, "Hell, my experience has been as an executive. I'm the only person actually running who has run a business, a city and a state. And while that experience is valuable in many places, I think it's especially valuable when you start looking at what it would take to beat Donald Trump in the small towns and suburbs, where he was able to get Barack Obama-type voters. I think my background is probably uniquely suited for that kind of political success."

In June, Hickenlooper spoke to Salon about presiding over Colorado's government when it became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.

"We were the first state to implement it — Washington waited a year — and we took that very seriously. A lot of my staff had real serious doubts. I had serious doubts. We worried about a spike in teenage consumption. We were worried about people driving while high — an increase in that population," Hickenlooper told Salon.

After describing how the worst fears of skeptics had not been realized, Hickenlooper added, "I don't know if we were the trend-setters, but we took it seriously but skeptically. We weren't out to try and sell anything, or prove . . . I mean, we took it as . . . Like [former Supreme Court Judge] Louis Brandeis said, "If states are the laboratories of democracy, we wanted to design an experiment that would have real value to the rest of the country."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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