Hickenlooper Campaign Becomes First Major Team Shakeup Among Democrats

Finance director leaves candidate polling at 1 percent for candidate with 2 percent

John Hickenlooper / Getty Images
July 2, 2019

John Hickenlooper's presidential campaign will witness the departure or soon-to-be departure of no fewer than five aides, resulting in one of the first major team overhauls for any of the two dozen Democrats in the race.

Late Monday, Politico first reported that finance director Dan Sorensen was leaving the former two-term Colorado governor's campaign to join the Beto O’Rourke team. By doing so, Sorensen left a candidate polling between 0-1 percent for a candidate polling between 2-4 percent.

Many pundits were quick to link Sorensen's departure to the close of the fundraising quarter, leading some to conclude the totals may have been underwhelming. A politics editor for the Denver Post tweeted the news, adding, "It will be very interesting to see what Hick's upcoming fundraising numbers look like."

Shortly after the Politico story, the Hickenlooper team sent out an email announcing a new campaign manager, M.E. Smith, who previously worked on campaigns for Democratic senators Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Bob Casey (Penn.).

Before journalists could finish writing stories on the new campaign manager, news broke that spokeswoman Lauren Hitt would be leaving soon as well.

ABC News then confirmed that digital director John Schueler and New Hampshire political director Nolan Varee will be leaving the team as well, and said that a deputy finance director is also rumored to be on the way out.

CBS News reporter Stephanie Ramirez tweeted "Sources say they [the team members] were not fired," meaning the staffers may have had more complaints about the candidate than vice versa.

The loss of Komar as campaign manager is especially weighty given that he managed the governor's reelection in 2014.

The staff exodus has reignited speculation that the former governor may transition to a 2020 Senate race to challenge incumbent Republican Cory Gardner, a Senate seat Democrats are keenly hoping to flip next year.

While on the presidential trail, however, Hickenlooper closed the door on more than one occasion to a Senate run, generally saying he was more of an executive-style personality, while suggesting he was ill-suited for the lengthy legislative slogs required in the Senate.

"I'm not cut out to be a senator," Hickenlooper was quoted as saying in Politico in February. "Senators don't build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups, which is important, right? But I'm not sure that's my — I'm a doer. That's what gives me joy."