Hickenlooper Backtracks on Saying He’s ‘Not Cut Out to Be a Senator’

Failed 2020 candidate runs for Senate

John Hickenlooper / Getty Images

Former Colorado governor and failed Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper on Thursday morning launched his Senate campaign after saying back in February he is "not cut out to be a senator."

"I’ve always said Washington is a lousy place for a guy like me who knows how to get things done. But this is no time to walk away," Hickenlooper tweeted. "Changing DC is hard, but I'm not done fighting for the people of Colorado. I'm running for U.S. Senate."

Hickenlooper, who ended his presidential campaign last week after struggling in the polls, joins a crowded Democratic primary vying to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.). While Hickenlooper discussed his potential Senate run with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) after the second debate, he continued to campaign in Iowa and participated in Iowa State Fair festivities with the other presidential candidates.

While Hickenlooper is viewed as a formidable challenger to Gardner, he is already receiving criticism from some of the other Democratic candidates in the primary. State senator Angela Williams said she is "concerned" about Washington insiders "interfering with Colorado voters in their selection of a Democratic nominee."

She was also critical of Hickenlooper attacking the "progressive values of women and people of color on issues like health care reform" during his failed presidential run. Diana Bray, a clinical psychologist and environmentalist running in the primary, said she is confident "most people in Colorado are looking for a new, progressive vision."

Andrew Romanoff, who has run multiple unsuccessful congressional campaigns, told KOA NewsRadio last week that he "heard Gov. Hickenlooper tell everybody who asked is, he wasn't cut out to be a senator and didn't want the job. Look, I respect that. I respect him," referring to Hickenlooper's comments back in February.

Hickenlooper would make similar comments as recently as May and June. During an interview on ABC's This Week, he said he would be a "difficult candidate" for Senate. During another interview in June at the National Press Club he was asked about people in Colorado asking him to run for Senate, prompting him to say, "If the senate is so good, how come all of those senators are trying to get out."

"The Senate doesn't attract me," he added. "It just doesn't attract me."

Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Hickenlooper "is desperate to redeem himself after flopping on the national stage."

"John Hickenlooper is desperate to redeem himself after flopping on the national stage, but we think he said it best just a few months ago: he is ‘not cut out' for the Senate," said Rodriguez. "This crowded Senate field has been in a race to the left and Hickenlooper's quixotic presidential bid did not do him any favors in proving he can compete in any race in 2020."