Colorado Dems Push Back Against Hickenlooper Senate Run

Quick endorsement of failed presidential contender by DSCC sparks ire

Former governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper / Getty Images
August 28, 2019

Leaked emails revealed a host of Democratic leaders in Colorado voicing frustration with and opposition to John Hickenlooper's decision to drop his presidential run in favor of pursuing the party's nomination for a U.S. Senate run next November.

Much of the debate in the emails came after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed the former two-term governor quickly after he announced his Senate bid, a move that frustrated the many candidates who had been working retail politics across the state while Hickenlooper's presidential run failed to gain traction.

"Hickenlooper has made it clear that he neither understands nor cares about the true problems in our country," a county party chairwoman wrote, "and I object to being told that I, as a party chair, am unable to take sides in a primary, but the DSCC … is able to put a thumb on the scale and force out our candidates who actually comprehend the deeper roots of the societal problems we face."

The emails, broken by the Denver Post, "offer a window into an intraparty conflict that is sure to spill out in public for weeks and months to come as Democrats debate who should be their nominee to take on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner," the paper reported.

The leak of the emails comes about one day after a group of six female candidates for the nomination sent a letter to the DSCC asking it to rescind the endorsement outright.

"All of us, like many women in Colorado and across the country, have seen well-qualified women passed over for male candidates in the workplace time and again," the letter said.

"Governor Hickenlooper is utterly disrespectful and tone deaf to the contributions of activists and communities that make Colorado a leader on progressive values," the women concluded in the letter to Senate minority leader Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.), the chairwoman of the DSCC.

As Hickenlooper campaigned for president from March to August, he often said he didn't want to run for Senate and didn't think he was well suited for the job, something Republicans are making hay with in online videos.

Shortly before the Fourth of July holiday, Hickenlooper suffered a massive defection of top campaign staff that had asked him to drop his presidential ambitions in favor of the Senate run.

Even on the day Hickenlooper formally announced his Senate run, some high-ranking Democrats were voicing their displeasure on Twitter and elsewhere, highlighting that the party was not willing to clear the field to for him.