Just as he slipped off the radar of Democrats eying the White House, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was drawn back in.
Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin put the former brewmaster from LoDo back into the Beltway’s conversation on Friday in a piece that sizes up humble Hick against Donald Trump on the election stage.
“If one were to look for his perfect opposite (of Trump), it would not be someone like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who fancies himself as a disrupter of the status quo (including capitalism); it would be someone like Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper,” she wrote.
Rubin adds this (reflecting that Hickenlooper is a lot better known in Colorado than he is elsewhere):
“Who?” you say. Hickenlooper is a former geologist (pro-science and pro-fracking); former Denver mayor and two-term governor; a policy wonk (he teamed up with Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, to try to fashion a bipartisan health-care approach); an implementor of pot legalization (think of him as Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s worst nightmare); and a dogged supporter of “dreamers” and broad immigration reform. Following the mass murder at an Aurora movie theater in 2012, he also became an advocate of strict gun laws, earning him an F grade from the National Rifle Association.”
Rubin, also an MSNBC contributor, is described in her WaPo bio as an “opinion writer reporting from a center-right perspective.”
Hickenlooper, especially in Colorado, has been the focus of speculation about his presidential ambitions for months. While admitting he’s thinking about it, he plays it coy. He insists he’s focused on serving out his last months as governor.
Colorado Politics has confirmed he’s retaining some of his staff after leaving office in January. His people say that’s just to manage his schedule and events as a post-officeholder with many and varied interests and views, and they’re not campaign staff. Yet.
Some speculate he might run against Republican Cory Gardner for Senate in 2020, or he even could wind up the president of the University of Colorado next year. The “some” are often wrong.
Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning on Friday said Hickenlooper benefits from the Great Mentioner, described by writer Russell Baker, as “to describe the mysterious source who plucks politicians from obscurity and mentions them to political journalists as contenders for higher office.”
“Conventional wisdom says a moderate (and a white male) isn’t going to win the 2020 Democratic nomination. But keep a few things in mind,” Rubin wrote Friday. “First, if the progressive lane in the primaries is crowded, a moderate might have a path forward — especially in open primaries. Someone who can consolidate even a quarter of the vote would certainly be in the thick of things. Second, if the GOP is still in Trump’s grasp, Hickenlooper is precisely the kind of moderate, pro-business Democrat who might attract disaffected Republicans.”