WASHINGTON (AP) – Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday that he will run for the U.S. Senate, becoming the immediate front-runner in a crowded Democratic field vying for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Cory Gardner.
Hickenlooper last year brushed off entreaties from Washington Democrats to challenge Gardner, widely seen as the most vulnerable Republican senator in the country. Instead he mounted a longshot presidential campaign that collapsed before it ended in mid-August. Many Colorado Democratic and Republican strategists began to view a Hickenlooper entry into the Senate race as inevitable at that point.
Hickenlooper, an oil geologist turned brewpub owner who decided to run for Denver mayor in 2003 and won two gubernatorial elections, has loomed over Colorado politics for two decades. But his moderate, consensus-oriented approach may not be as good a fit in a state shifting to the left. Numerous Democrats – all younger than the 67-year-old former governor – announced their challenges to Gardner after Hickenlooper shifted his sights to the White House, and none has indicated he or she would step aside now. Indeed, one, state Sen. Angela Williams, warned “this won’t be a coronation.”