Two prominent Colorado gun-safety advocates are throwing their support behind Democrat John Hickenlooper in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Cory Gardner.
State Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and state Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, on Wednesday formally endorsed Hickenlooper, crediting the former two-term governor for his work to pass gun-control legislation.
The endorsements come two days after gun safety champion Gabby Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman and shooting survivor, backed Hickenlooper at a rally in Aurora near the movie theater where Sullivan's son Alex was killed in a 2012 mass shooting.
Hickenlooper outlined proposals to reduce gun violence at the Aurora event, which also featured Fields and Sullivan's wife, Terry, and daughter Megan.
Fields and Sullivan are longtime Hickenlooper allies. Both spoke a year ago at his presidential campaign's kick-off rally in Denver's Civic Center.
Hickenlooper, who ended his White House bid in August, is one of nine Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Gardner, considered one of the most vulnerable Republican senators on the ballot this fall. Hickenlooper finished second in a statewide preference poll conducted at Saturday's Democratic caucuses, behind former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
Fields, whose son Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, were killed in a shooting in Aurora in 2005, said in a statement that she believes Hickenlooper can move legislation blocked by Senate Republicans, including Gardner.
“John Hickenlooper was there for my community, victims and survivors after the Aurora shooting and helped us pass some of the most important gun safety reform measures, and I’m so proud of the work we did,” said Fields.
“But we now have HR 8 stuck in the Senate, blocked by Mitch McConnell and Cory Gardner. That's why we need to elect Gov. Hickenlooper to the Senate to pass legislation to make sure we have universal background checks all across America.”
Sullivan, who testified in support of gun bills signed by Hickenlooper, has said he's tried for years without success to meet with Gardner.
“Far too many Colorado families — my own included — have lost a loved one to gun violence. After our tragedy in Aurora, John Hickenlooper rolled up his sleeves and took on the NRA to pass universal background checks and move us toward a day when no other family will lose a child to a gun,” Sullivan stated.
“But Sen. Cory Gardner was too cowardly to even meet with me. We need John’s leadership in the United States Senate to finally get something done at the national level. It’s time we have a senator who will put Coloradans’ safety ahead of campaign checks from the gun lobby, and that’s why I’m proud to endorse John Hickenlooper.”
Hickenlooper said in a statement released by his campaign that he was "proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Tom and Rhonda" to take on the National Rifle Association, which opposed the Colorado bills and later funded recall campaigns that cost two Democratic lawmakers their seats.
“With their help and leadership, we were able to pass some of the most aggressive gun safety legislation in the country — in a purple state," Hickenlooper said. "Colorado can, and should be, the national model for passing common sense gun safety legislation, and that is exactly what we will get done in the United States Senate.”