DENVER (CBS4) - Former Gov. John Hickenlooper has formally announced he's running for president. Colorado's 42nd governor made the announcement overnight and will hold a campaign kickoff party at Civic Center Park on Thursday.
Hickenlooper, 67, has visited traditional early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire several times recently to talk to voters. Last fall he formed a political action committee called Giddy Up PAC in anticipation of a possible presidential run.
The moderate Democrat was governor from 2011 to 2019 and left office due to term limits. Prior to being governor, he served two terms as mayor of Denver. Hickenlooper was one of the founders of Denver's popular Wynkoop Brewery.
Hickenlooper's political focus as governor was often built around consensus building. He has spoken extensively about Colorado's success in tackling climate change, passing universal background checks and expanding coverage for health insurance.
He is positioning himself as a moderate at a time of intense partisanship in the country.
"I think there's a point where someone like me -- I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a problem solver, I've been good at bringing people together that historically have been antagonistic. Maybe the country needs someone that can bring the divided parts of the country and the divided constituencies back together," he said in a CNN interview in December.
Last fall, CBS4 Democratic Analyst Mike Dino and Republican Analyst Dick Wadhams said Hickenlooper's unscripted, unconventional style may work for him, once people warm up to it.
"When I was CEO of the Democratic Convention Committee, the national people had a hard time with John," said Dino. "They couldn't relate to him like we could. Once they got to know him, they liked him."
Wadhams says in a post-Trump election era, it may be easier for candidates like Hickenlooper who occasionally put their foot in their mouth.
"Ironically, President Trump might have set the stage for somebody like Hickenlooper because think of all the faux pas he's made and yet he's president."
Hickenlooper is also atypical in that he's not old guard or far left. Dino says that may benefit him.
"Maybe he'll get people from both ends of the spectrum to say he feels like the right cup of porridge."
Wadhams agreed Hickenlooper may fill a void in the current lineup of possible candidates.
"I think there will be a reservoir of left-of-center Democrats, moderate Democrats, who will be looking for someone other than Bernie Sanders, other than Elizabeth Warren, other than Joe Biden. That may be the nitch that Hickenlooper can fill."
Hickenlooper is the author of a candid autobiography titled "The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics." In the book, he describes growing up on the East Coast, attending Wesleyan University and eventually becoming an entrepreneur in Colorado. He's married to Robin Hickenlooper and has a son, Teddy, from his first marriage to author Helen Thorpe.
Colorado hasn't had a strong presidential contender since Gary Hart in 1988.
for more features.