Six Democratic women seeking the 2020 U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado on Monday asked the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to reconsider its endorsement of John Hickenlooper.
A strongly-worded letter signed by six of the seven women running for the seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner called the national campaign group's backing of the former Colorado governor "premature."
"The Colorado [D]emocratic primary for the US Senate seat should belong to the voters," concludes the letter, which was addressed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Democrat in the Senate, and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who heads the senate campaign group.
"Washington insiders should watch the race develop and hear from all of the candidates before getting involved. To be clear, this race is not a coronation of any candidate," the letter adds. "We hope the DSCC will give strong consideration to rescinding its endorsement, and allow Coloradans to decide the outcome of this primary campaign."
The letter is signed by state Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver; climate activist Diana Bray; organizer Lorena Garcia; former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden; educator and former congressional candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding; and nonprofit leader Michelle Ferrigno Warren.
Another woman Democratic candidate, scientist Trish Zornio, did not sign the letter.
Hickenlooper jumped in the crowded Colorado Senate primary on Aug. 22, a week after he ended his struggling campaign for president.
The next day, the campaign committee threw its support behind the former two term governor.
After receiving the letter from the women candidates, a DSCC spokeswoman reaffirmed the group's endorsement.
“John Hickenlooper is far and away the strongest candidate to beat Cory Gardner, and we’re proud to support him in his run for Senate," said Lauren Passalacqua in a late-Monday email to Colorado Politics.
Hickenlooper also has picked up backing from U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, D-California, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, both presidential candidates, as well as from Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, who was Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016 when she won Colorado's presidential vote.
Hickenlooper has faced intense push-back from most of the 11 candidates already running for the seat held by Gardner, including from Democrats who note that Colorado has never elected a woman as governor or U.S. senator.
Monday's letter from the women candidates makes that point, but also swings hard at Hickenlooper's moderate stance as governor and during the presidential primary, when he argued that Democrats risk alienating voters if they adopt policies considered too liberal.
"What is more troubling is Hickenlooper’s rhetoric throughout his failed Presidential bid he derisively referred to progressives as 'socialist' and paternally lectured us on how our progressive values will 're-elect Donald Trump'," the letter reads. "Let us not forget that it was progressives who fought for the rights of women and communities of color in the 1960s and 1970s that we still enjoy today. Governor Hickenlooper’s statements have offended and angered many of the voters in Colorado."
The letter continues: "Just like Senator Gardner, Governor Hickenlooper is utterly disrespectful and tone deaf to the contributions of activists and communities that make Colorado a leader on progressive values."
“This is a talented field of candidates, who will all have the opportunity to make their case and voters will make this decision," said Jacque Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Hickenlooper campaign, in an email.
"John will be working hard to earn the vote of every Coloradan," she added.
The Colorado Senate race is considered a must-win for Democrats and could be among the most contested in the country. Five other candidates are also seeking the Democratic nomination.