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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Trish Zornio speaks at a forum sponsored by the Denver Democrats on Oct. 5, 2019, in Denver.

Scientist and educator Trish Zornio on Thursday endorsed one-time Democratic primary rival John Hickenlooper, saying the former two-term governor has what it takes to deny Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner a second term.

“John is, without a doubt, the best candidate to go up against a Republican incumbent senator when Democrats need to build back the majority,” Zornio said in a statement. “John knows how to bring people together. I admire him for his ability to build diverse coalitions of voices and expertise to win statewide in Colorado twice."

Zornio, a first-time candidate who reminded voters at every turn that there aren't any scientists in the Senate, said she trusts Hickenlooper to bring a science-based approach to policy.

"Now, more than ever, we need science in the Senate, and I know John will listen to scientists to confront the issues of our time such as climate change and health care," Zornio said.

Hickenlooper, who worked as a field geologist early in his career, is facing former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a June 30 primary.

“Colorado is lucky to have Trish Zornio’s leadership and crucial voice for science in our politics and I am proud to earn her support,” Hickenlooper said in a statement.

“Trish is passionate about identifying the injustices that hurt Coloradans and designing evidence-based policy to tackle issues like health care and climate change. She is truly inspiring and I look forward to working with her in the future to deliver for our state.”

Zornio, one of the first in field of Gardner challengers that eventually grew to more than 20 Democrats, withdrew from the primary days before the Democratic state assembly in April, saying the stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic hampered her ability to win support from delegates.

The New Hampshire native lectures on neuroscience and research methodology at the University of Colorado Denver and has worked in the medical research field at the University of Colorado Boulder, Denver Health Medical Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine.

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