How Hickenlooper Sticks Out in 2020

The Colorado governor is unique in the field of prospective Democratic contenders.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks about the Supreme Court's decision in favor of a baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple, during a rally in Denver on Monday, June 4, 2018. The couple, Dave Mullins, center right, front, and Charlie Craig, right front, standing next to Hickenlooper, brought the case against baker Jack Phillips.
AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
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Kyle Trygstad
Sept. 19, 2018, 9:56 a.m.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is a consensus-builder at a time of increased polarization and a storyteller in a world of Twitter character limits. He’s the opposite of both President Trump and the kind of candidate many expect Democratic primary voters will be looking for in 2020.

In the process of reporting a Hickenlooper profile, a few of the people I interviewed—some of whom he’s spoken with about his interest in running for president—brought up the race to replace the term-limited governor in the blue-trending state as an example of why the moderate may have trouble breaking through.

Like the more liberal Rep. Jared Polis, who was nominated in June, Hickenlooper’s political career was born out of his business experience and community involvement. The same charm that helped him launch the state’s first brewpub and rejuvenate a blighted area of downtown Denver helped him get elected mayor and, nearly eight years later, governor.

While beer and his front-of-the-house inviting nature should help him connect with voters in small rooms across the early-voting states as well, will his record have enough appeal and will his message be forceful enough to compete with some of the potential contenders who’ve made names for themselves in D.C.? We’ll soon find out.

-- Kyle Trygstad


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