WASHINGTON, D.C. — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appeared to come closer than he has to date in suggesting he might seek the presidency after an awards event Tuesday in the nation’s capital.
“At some time I want to sit down and spend some time to think about it,” Hickenlooper told Colorado Politics.
However, he said it was too soon for his decision.
“Not yet,” the Democrat said. “I got to focus on the stuff we’re doing now.”
He added, “Maybe this summer.”
With the term-limited Hickenlooper’s final term winding down, there’s been much discussion of whether he might run for either president or vice president on the Democratic ticket in 2020.
Some have noted his crowded schedule of appearances around the nation. This week alone, the governor’s published schedule features multiple speeches and panel appearances in Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Houston. Earlier this month, Hickenlooper stopped by Iowa — a favorite destination for presidential wanna-bes — and he even went to Paris last December for a climate summit.
Recently, Hickenlooper’s political alliances with Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio on such issues as health care raised speculation about a possible trans-party unity ticket.
Minutes before his comments to Colorado Politics, Hickenlooper had accepted the annual “Friend of the Outdoor Industry Award” from the Outdoor Industry Association at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
The association chose Hickenlooper for the award largely because of his leadership in organizing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in 2015. The office is a central contact point for advocacy and resources of the state’s outdoor recreation industry.
Outdoor recreation contributes to about 229,000 jobs and annual revenue of $28 billion for the state. Much of it comes from skiing, camping and hiking.
The industry received a boost last week when the Colorado legislature approved Senate Bill 66, which reauthorizes the Lottery Division. Half the revenue, or about $135 million a year, goes to outdoor projects.
The projects are overseen by the Conservation Trust Fund, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado, a program to enhance the state’s parks, wildlife, rivers and open spaces.
“I also think Colorado is just getting started,” said Travis Campbell, president of Steamboat Springs-based Smartwool, a company that sells clothing for outdoor activities.
Campbell was one of more than 100 business executives and advocates in Washington this week to speak with members of Congress about additional funding for the outdoor industry. They claim their industry is worth $887 billion for the U.S. economy.
Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, described her industry as facing “a tough political climate.”
Less than a year after he took office, President Donald Trump announced he was drastically shrinking two large national monuments in Utah. The move sparked outrage from major outdoor retailers like Patagonia and the North Face.
That reaction from the industry, and wooing from Hickenlooper and other Colorado leaders, contributed to the relocation of Outdoor Retailer, the biggest outdoor retail trade show in North America, from its longtime site in Salt Lake City to Denver.
More recently, Trump announced last month he would impose $50 billion in tariffs on many consumer goods imported from China to retaliate for reported thefts of U.S. intellectual property.
The tariffs are expected to fall hard on gear typically sold for Colorado’s outdoor activities, such as hiking boots, ski jackets and backpacks. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates an average pair of hiking boots would jump in price from $200 to $360.
Roberts described Colorado’s outdoor industry by saying, “I think it’s more developed in Colorado than other places.”
Hickenlooper said the industry “could be a lot bigger.”
He told the crowd at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill about a hiking trip he took from Aspen to Crested Butte.
“There were wildflowers up above my hip,” he said. The scenery, weather and wildlife combined to give him what he called “a religious experience.”