Election 2020 Hickenlooper

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper waits to speak at the Story County Democrats' annual soup supper fundraiser, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has one less thing to worry about, if words spoken on the campaign trail mean anything.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, testing a presidential bid in Iowa Saturday, said, “I’m not cut out to be a senator.”

Politico reported the declaration Saturday evening.

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The Republican incumbent's endorsement of President Trump last month could be trouble enough already in his first re-election effort next year. Gardner upset Democrat Mark Udall in 2014.

A popular ex-governor in the state where Trump's unpopularity kneecapped Republican candidates last November, Hickenlooper is viewed as a closer for Democrats to pick up a valuable seat in the Republican-led upper chamber.

The challengers with the highest name recognition so far include former state Sen. Michael Johnston and two former state House speakers, Andrew Romanoff and Crisanta Duran.

> RELATED: COVER STORY | A look at who's taking on Cory Gardner for Senate (VIDEOS)

However, The Colorado Independent reported Friday the House's first Latina speaker may be rethinking a Senate bid in 2020, with an eye to either taking on long-time 1st Congressional District Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver in 2020 or waiting until 2022, when Colorado is expected to pick up another congressional seat.

“Senators don’t build teams," Hickenlooper said in Iowa. "Senators sit and debate in small groups, which is important, right? But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

Politico reporter Nolan D. McCaskill followed Hickenlooper Saturday in the early caucus state  a make-or-break venue for the long list of Democrats thinking about running, including U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

> RELATED: TRAIL MIX | Is it Cory Gardner's turn to face a rising star?

Neither has officially declared he'll run for president, but tromping around Iowa in February is akin to showing up at a wedding in a white gown.

While both Coloradans are White House long shots at this point, showing up raises their profile, which would raise their moderate influence on the party's platform against Trump or put them in line for vice presidential consideration or a Cabinet seat down that line.

“I think I’m the one person out there that could show again and again and again the ability to bring people together,” McCaskill reported Hickenlooper telling about 20 people Saturday morning in a coffee shop in Sioux City.

Colorado Politics' Marianne Goodland contributed.


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