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John Hickenlooper announces Senate run after dropping out of White House race

John Hickenlooper ends presidential campaign
John Hickenlooper ends presidential campaign 08:35

Just a week after announcing his departure from the packed field of Democratic presidential primary contenders, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced that he's now running for Senate, aiming to unseat Republican Senator Cory Gardner. He released a video to announce his Senate campaign early Thursday. 

"I've always said Washington was a lousy place for for a guy like me who wants to get things done, but this is no time to walk away from the table," said Hickenlooper as he lined up a shot at a billiards table inside a bar, a nod to his past as a Colorado brewery entrepreneur. 

"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 mentioned the possibility of a Senate bid in a video last week announcing the end of his presidential campaign.

In that video, he said, "I've heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country and our state."

Colorado is one of the top targets for Democrats in their effort to flip the Senate in 2020, and several polls (here and herehave found that Hickenlooper would field the most serious challenge to Gardner.

Already, 11 Democratic candidates are running in the primary and will have to decide whether to rally behind Hickenlooper's bid. One of the Democratic candidates, state Senator Angela Williams, has signaled she will not. She released a statement on the day Hickenlooper ended his presidential bid saying, "He has a lot to explain to Colorado voters. This won't be a coronation."

The former speaker of the Colorado House, Andrew Romanoff, whose campaign has raised over $1 million this year, told CBS News that Colorado needs a leader who will fight for a Green New Deal and "Medicare for All." He did not mention Hickenlooper by name, but as a presidential candidate Hickenlooper opposed both ideas.

According to Federal Election Commission rules, Hickenlooper can transfer the cash he raised in his presidential bid to his Senate campaign. Hickenlooper reported $1.15 million in receipts during the second quarter and ended June with just over $830,000 cash on hand. Two candidates already in the race (Mike Johnston and "Dan For Colorado") each posted over $1 million in receipts in the second quarter.

Republicans meanwhile painted Hickenlooper's Senate challenge to Gardner as a "desperate" attempt at redemption after dropping out of the 2020 race. 

"This crowded Senate field has been in a race to the left and Hickenlooper's quixotic presidential bid did not do him any favors in proving he can compete in any race in 2020," said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez.

Hickenlooper followed an unusual route into politics, beginning his professional life as a geologist with Buckhorn Petroleum in the 1980s. But the oil bust in the mid-'80s cost him his job in 1986. There were no jobs to be had in the oil industry, so Hickenlooper went into the brewpub business, opening the Wynkoop Brewing Co. The brewery was a success, and it made him a millionaire.

Hickenlooper was the second governor or former governor to announce a Democratic presidential bid, following Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee also dropped out of the 2020 presidential race and is rumored to be seeking a third term as Washington's governor. 

Hickenlooper formally launched his bid on Gardner's 45th birthday. 

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