Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper declared Wednesday night that he is running for U.S. Senate against Cory Gardner (R-CO), who has long been seen as the most vulnerable Republican Senator in the 2020 election.
“I don’t think Cory Gardner understands that the games he’s playing with Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are hurting the people of Colorado,” says Hickenlooper in a campaign announcement video that features the former governor playing billiards.
“Look, I’m a straight shooter. I’ve always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who wants to get things done,” continues Hickenlooper. “I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot.”
Hickenlooper, a former businessman and geologist, joined the Democratic 2020 primary back in March and was the first person to emphasize a record of bipartisan cooperation, according to the Wall Street Journal. He ultimately failed to garner any wide support, never receiving more than 2% in any national poll and only receiving 7% support in his home state of Colorado, according to FiveThirtyEight.
But as a candidate for U.S. Senate, Hickenlooper’s prospects seem much brighter. A poll conducted in late July by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group has him ahead of all other Democratic candidates by 51 points, according to the Denver Post. A more recent poll has Hickenlooper beating Gardner in a head-to-head matchup by 13 points, according to The New York Times.
Cory Gardner, who has served in the Senate since 2015, remains optimistic about his chances for re-election. The senator’s campaign manager, Casey Contres, has dismissed Hickenlooper as “just another liberal in the clown car,” the Times reports. “Whoever their party nominates will be wildly out of step with Colorado and we look forward to facing them in the general election,” said Contres.
The Senate currently has 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats (including two independent senators who typically vote with Democrats). Many left-wing political commentators see the election as an opportunity for Democrats to gain control in the chamber.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley made a trip to Colorado on Monday to campaign for Gardner and assured his supporters that he will be re-elected in 2020. “All of the media and everyone else is going to tell you, ‘It’s a scary race, we don’t know.’ But we’ve been here before,” said Haley, in comments reported by The Denver Post. “We’ve won here before. We know how to do it and we’ll do it again.”