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John Hickenlooper drops out of presidential race

Hickenlooper might end 2020 campaign

John Hickenlooper announced Thursday that he is ending his bid for the presidency. 

In a three-minute video posted to YouTube, the former Colorado governor said that while he had enjoyed campaigning for the presidency, it was was now time to bow out. He also teased a possible run for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. 

"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. I intend to give that some serious thought," Hickenlooper said in the video. Numerous national Democrats have encouraged Hickenlooper for months to end his longshot race for the presidency and run against Gardner instead. 

Hickenlooper, 67, a onetime Denver mayor and businessman and geologist by training, served as Colorado governor from 2011 to 2019. He has repeatedly said along the campaign trail, "I'm the only candidate in this race who's actually achieved the big, progressive things politicians in Washington are talking about."  

Colorado is one of the top targets in Democrats' efforts to flip the Senate in this next election. The party needs to pick up three seats if President Trump loses reelection and four if he wins. Republicans are defending 22 out of the 34 seats on the map for the cycle. Only two of the 22 seats are in states Hillary Clinton won in 2016: Colorado and Maine. 

Hickenlooper launched his presidential campaign five months ago. A relative moderate, Hickenlooper struggled to have a breakout moment on the campaign trail, but has sparred repeatedly with Bernie Sanders over positions some of the Vermont senator's progressive proposals, such as "Medicare for All." 

In July, six senior staffers left Hickenlooper's campaign. He also struggled to raise the money necessary to make him competitive in the crowded Democratic presidential field. 

Hickenlooper has said that he did not thing running for the Senate was his "calling," but had hedged on the issue in recent days. Eleven Democrats are already running in the Colorado primary, although a number of polls indicate that Hickenlooper could mount the most serious challenge to Gardner. 

Ed O'Keefe contributed reporting. 

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