Former Denver Mayor and Clinton Cabinet Member Rejects CO Candidates

Hickenlooper, Bennet still searching for ways to break out of the pack

Federico Pena / Getty Images
July 29, 2019

Former Denver mayor and Clinton secretary of the Department of Transportation Federico Peña endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for president, giving his fellow Coloradans the cold shoulder.

"Each and every one of these leaders are trusted voices in their communities and I am proud to have earned their support," vice president Joe Biden said in an emailed press release announcing a slew of endorsements in swing states.

"Their endorsements are crucial to this campaign. I look forward to standing alongside them and speaking with voters in their communities about rebuilding the backbone of our country – the middle class – and unifying America."

Peña is the highest-profile name on a list of 14 other Coloradans endorsing Biden, thereby forsaking the candidacies of former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet.

Both Bennet and Hickenlooper have struggled to break out of the lower tier in the crowded field since the conclusion of the 2018 elections and onward into the first debate series.

Hickenlooper also lost a potential key endorsement at the beginning of the year, when former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley endorsed Beto O'Rourke. Over the course of the last decade, Hickenlooper and O'Malley had built a close friendship that seemed poised to translate into some kind of political cooperation.

In 2012, Peña was still leveraging some of his political clout from the Clinton administration by being a western "co-chair" of the Obama campaign.

At a time when then-President Obama and his surrogates were savaging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for being a "vampire" venture capitalist, scant media attention was paid to the fact that Peña also worked at venture capital firm, and was partially or directly responsible for laying off hundreds at a Del Monte plant in California, as well as a Solo Cup production facility.