Bill Ritter

Former Colordo Gov. Bill Ritter visits with Democrats at the opening of Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's national presidential campaign office last September. (Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Former Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper, calling his successor as governor the candidate who has proven he can take action on climate change.

Hickenlooper faces former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a June 30 primary for the seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

“As governor, John Hickenlooper committed Colorado to the Paris Climate Agreement, jump-started the transition to cleaner cars, and passed limits on methane emissions that became the national gold standard,” said Ritter, director of Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy and coiner of the phrase “new energy economy” when he was governor.

“John understands the urgent need to act on climate change and has the record to prove he can get it done. Colorado needs someone in Washington who can bring people together to solve today’s toughest problems, and John Hickenlooper is that leader.”

Romanoff, a supporter of the Green New Deal, has castigated Hickenlooper, who worked as a petroleum geologist decades ago and oversaw a massive increase in oil and gas drilling while governor, as too measured in his approach to climate change.

Hickenlooper welcomed Ritter's support in a statement provided by his campaign.

“Governor Ritter put Colorado on track for a cleaner energy future, and we built on his work during my administration," Hickenlooper said. "Now we need to bring that same Colorado collaboration to Washington to reverse the Republican attacks on our environment and transition to a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050 at the latest.”

Ritter, a former Denver district attorney, served one term as governor from 2007-2011, when Hickenlooper took office for the first of his two terms.

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