Dan Baer on Thursday became the latest Democrat to withdraw from Colorado's U.S. Senate primary following former Gov. John Hickenlooper's entry into the race to take on Republican Cory Gardner in the 2020 election.
"Today I am suspending my campaign for the U.S. Senate and endorsing John Hickenlooper as the candidate who will beat Cory Gardner next November. We must win this seat!" Baer wrote in an email to supporters.
A former ambassador in the Obama administration and member of Hickenlooper's cabinet during the governor's final year in office, Baer said in an interview with anchor Kyle Clark at Colorado Politics partner 9News that Hickenlooper's entry in the primary "changes the odds" for Democrats hoping to unseat Gardner in a race the party considers crucial to winning a majority in the Senate next year.
If elected, Baer could have been the first openly gay man in the U.S. Senate. He pointed to his $1.1 million fundraising haul in the most recent quarter, his first in the race, as the most ever raised by any LGBTQ Senate or congressional candidate in their initial quarter.
"Breaking barriers is rarely achieved by one campaign," Baer aid. "And it’s never only one person who rises to meet a moment. We are in this together, the fight for progress goes on, and I hope to continue to serve Colorado and our country on the road ahead."
Hickenlooper, who appointed Baer to head the Colorado Department of Higher Education in late 2017, said in a statement that he and his wife, Robin, are grateful for their friendship with Baer and his husband, Brian Walsh.
"He is a genuine public servant," Hickenlooper said. "From working with Secretary Clinton on her famous LGBTQ human rights speech to working with me when I was governor to tackle equity challenges in education, Dan’s career has been about making more things possible for more people. His history-making, record-breaking campaign won’t be the last we hear from him."
Robin Hickenlooper, a vice president at Colorado-based Liberty Media Corp., donated the maximum $2,800 to Baer's campaign in April before her husband entered the race.
Baer briefly ran for Congress in 2017 when Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter was seeking the nomination for governor, but he ended his campaign soon after Perlmutter quit the gubernatorial race and declared he would seek a seventh term representing the suburban 7th Congressional District.
Two other leading candidates have exited the Senate primary in the weeks since Hickenlooper jumped from a presidential candidacy to the Senate race on Aug. 21.
Mike Johnston, a former state senator and the primary's fundraising leader, suspended his campaign on Sept. 3, and John Walsh, a former U.S. attorney for Colorado, dropped out and endorsed Hickenlooper on Sept. 11.
Eight candidates in addition to Hickenlooper remain in the primary, including former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, state Sen. Angela Williams and former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden.