DENVER – Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper formally announced Thursday he would drop out of the 2020 presidential race, but he has not yet committed to running in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race in an attempt to be the Democratic nominee who will face Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
Hickenlooper announced his leaving the Democratic presidential primary in a three-minute video released at 11 a.m.
“Today, I’m ending my campaign for President. But I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together,” Hickenlooper said in the videotaped statement. “Don’t tell me that we can’t figure out how to lower prescription drug costs or tackle climate change. Don’t tell me we have to accept the number of gun deaths or the reduced job prospects of too many Americans.”
A source close to the campaign told Denver7 ahead of the announcement that Hickenlooper had not yet committed to running in the Senate race, though he has been speaking with advisers.
In an email to supporters on Thursday morning, he said he was prooud of what his campaign had accomplished and he thanked those who had backed him.
"I know everyone will keep up the good fight. In just a few months, we’ve laid out a path toward a more equitable economy that doesn’t lead us to extremes. I called on my personal experience leading Colorado through tragedy to build an effective nationwide plan for gun violence prevention. And we made the case that health care is a right, not a privilege, and should be treated as such," he wrote. "When I look back at what we’ve accomplished on this campaign, I feel proud to have had you by my side every step of the way. And when I do make my next move, you’ll be the first to know."
Hickenlooper, 67, has been pressed in recent months to leave the presidential race and try and unseat Gardner as Democrats work to try and flip the U.S. Senate in 2020. Beto O’Rourke has also been pushed to leave the race and challenge Sen. John Cornyn in Texas, and Montana’s Steve Bullock has been urged to leave the race and run against Steve Daines.
Hickenlooper has become a fairly-popular figure spanning parties in Colorado. He won two terms as governor during Republican wave years and also served as the mayor of Denver after his startup days as a geologist and brewpub businessman.
As Hickenlooper struggled to raise the money other presidential candidates were bringing in and stayed toward the bottom of polls, several of his campaign staffers left the campaign. But he hired more and has stayed in the race, spending significant time in Iowa and New Hampshire – some of the important early caucus and primary states.
And though it’s still unclear whether he will run for Senate, should he decide to do so, he will have to face an already-crowded pool of at least 11 others, including several high-profile candidates who have already raised more than $1 million apiece, including former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
A poll done in late July, reported by The Denver Post, found that Hickenlooper had a 51-point lead over other Senate candidates, however.
In his video, Hickenlooper said he’s heard the calls for him to run for Senate and said he would be considering it.
“People want to know what comes next for me. I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought,” he said. “I’ve been a geologist, a small businessman, a Mayor, a Governor and a candidate for President of the United States. At each step, I’ve always looked forward with hope. And I always will. Thank you."
This is a developing story and will be updated.