He made it official with a 4:30 a.m. announcement Monday: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is running for president.
Tonight's party sets his decision in motion, though one-time petroleum-industry geologist turned brewpub owner had already topped $1 million in fundraising as of Wednesday, his campaign announced.
Tonight's party, held at Civic Center in downtown Denver, is set to begin at 5 p.m. Those slated to perform include Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, SuCh and Mary Louise Lee, wife of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Expected speakers include Hancock, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, former Colorado state Sen. Lucia Guzman and state Senate Assistant Majority Leader Rhonda Fields.
Colorado Politics and The Gazette's reporters and photographers will bring you wall-to-wall coverage of the event. Stick with this blog for the latest.
That's a wrap for tonight. Thanks for following along. Stick with Colorado Politics for the latest in Colorado political news and election coverage.
More than 5,000 attended this evening's kick-off event, according to a press release just in from the Hickenlooper campaign.
The live stream from our news partner, 9News, has ended. Stand by for some final updates.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have now taken the stage.
While we're waiting for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats to take the stage, and while OneRepublic's "Good Life" continues to play, here are some tweets from our Conrad Swanson from Hickenlooper's speech.
"Together, we can turn this winter of division into a season of hope," Hickenlooper concludes. "Let's get to work. Thank you."
He's exiting the stage as "Good Life" by Colorado band OneRepublic plays. The song mentions the state of Colorado.
"I am a dreamer and a doer," Hickenlooper said emphatically. "And we need both."
"We will undo years of efforts to disenfranchise ... [minority] voters, and we will end this assault on the foundations of our democracy," Hickenlooper said.
At the end of his presidency, he wants people to say, "it feels like the cloud has lifted ... and we've gotten some big things done, and we feel hope," he added.
Universal broadband will become national policy the day he's elected, Hickenlooper said.
We will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and exceed its goals, Hickenlooper said.
"Together we'll build a green economy that creates jobs that can't be shipped overseas," he added.
Hickenlooper is now discussing launching a brewpub after losing his job as a geologist. "Our persistence paid off, and that brewery took off, and an entire neighborhood took off around it," he said.
He learned something President Donald Trump has never learned, he said.
"It isn't how many times you yell, 'You're fired!' but, instead, how many times you say, 'You're hired!' ... We said, 'You're hired,' 1,000 times."
Defeating Trump is essential but not sufficient, Hickenlooper said, adding that he's ready to be president.
When he's president, Hickenlooper said, it will be declared that health care is a right.
"We brought cities and suburbs and rural counties together and created a progressive water plan that made sense for everyone. We invested in high quality pre-K ... apprenticeships, light rail, so much more. And in just eight years, we moved from 40th in job growth to becoming the No. 1 economy in America," he said to applause.
"Now that's what you can do when you bring people together. And there was another secret ingredient: sheer persistence."
"I went to 32 funerals in my first four years" as governor, he said while discussing the disasters during his two terms as Colorado's governor.
"In the aftermath of that devastation, the roads and the bridges broken, we saw the good is not broken. ... Instead of anger, we saw kindness. Instead of despair, we saw neighbors finding ways to reach one another. That's how we rebuilt better than we were before."
"At four syllables and 12 letters, Hickenlooper is now the biggest name in the race," he said with a chuckle before discussing his childhood and self-proclaimed knowledge of how to deal with bullies.
"This isn't about unity for unity's sake. America stops working when we work against each other," Hickenlooper said.
"It is time to bring all Americans together," he shouted. "And that is why I am running for president of the United States."
"We broadcast America's values by celebrating those who may not have been born in America, but America was born in them. We define our gains by the number of us who look at a fellow American of a different race or sexual orientation and feel in our heart, 'Neighbor, you belong here,'" Hickenlooper said to cheers.
"Donald Trump is alienating our allies, ripping away our health care, endangering our planet and destroying our democracy," Hickenlooper said. "The daily insults he hurls out range from shocking to unconscionable. But it's more than his tweetstorms. Real people are being hurt."
Webb just introduced Hickenlooper as the next president of the U.S. Hickenlooper is taking the stage.
"Wow, alright," Hickenlooper said as the crowd cheered. "Tonight we meet against this backdrop of the great Rocky Mountains, in this place we love, in the heart of the American West, in a place ... described as the home of hope. As Americans, we all deserve to feel that hope. We're a young country in a wondrous, bountiful land teeming with possibility."
"From the Wynkoop to the White House, John ran twice for mayor and won both times. He ran for governor twice and won both times," former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb just told the crowd.
"John is the right person to beat Donald Trump," he added.
Denver's first lady, Mary Louise Lee, performed "America the Beautiful," and Mayor Michael Hancock is now on stage.
Some protesters are on scene, including one with a bullhorn, our Conrad Swanson reports.
As the sun sets over Denver, our Conrad Swanson sets the scene for the yet-to-kick-off kick-off event.
While we're killing time waiting for the event to start, here's Hickenlooper's campaign launch video, if you haven't seen it yet.
ICYMI: I'm asking you to interview me for President. Our country is in crisis, and we need someone who knows how to bring people together and get things done. This is my record, but I've never done it alone. Join me: https://t.co/bwhFokNuTo pic.twitter.com/UKKJT2D0vl— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) March 5, 2019
The crowd is still gathering for the kick-off event, expected to begin any moment. Soul singer SuCh is entertaining the crowd, our Ernest Luning tweets.
The event is set to kick off in just under 25 minutes, with bands and speakers expected to take the stage before Hickenlooper.
Some musical commentary from our ever hip Conrad Swanson, who is live on scene: "Someone working for Hick’s camp has eclectic taste in music. They’ve already played LCD Soundsystem’s Dance Yrself Clean. Now on to the Dandy Worhol’s Bohemian Like You. Welcome back to the early 2000s."
More scene-setting from our Conrad Swanson, who is touching base with Hickenlooper fans who are braving slightly chilly temps to cheer on the former governor. It's 52 degrees in Denver right now, with temperatures forecasted to drop a good 10 degrees or so over the next hour.
Hickenlooper's official account posted what appears to be a video of performers Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats warming up about an hour ago. The Denver-based band also performed at Gov. Jared Polis' inaugural ball in January.
Getting ready for the rally to kick off. Our Conrad Swanson tweets that there is a plane flying over the park with a banner that reads, "BIG HICKUP FOR 2020: JETGATE SCANDAL."
It's likely a reference to a recent ethics complaint filed against Hickenlooper filed by former Republican Speaker of the House Frank McNulty and his Public Trust Institute.
More on that here.