Hickenlooper launches presidential campaign

Governor John Hickenlooper speaks outside the evacuation shelter during the Spring Fire in Costilla County in July 2018. From left are U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, Hickenlooper, U.S. Sen. Gary Gardner, State Sen. Larry Crowther and State Rep. Donald Valdez./Courier file photo by Sylvia Lobato

DENVER — On Monday Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Hickenlooper announced his decision to run in a campaign video, “Stand Tall.” The video highlights the governor’s 16 years of executive experience and his record of accomplishment in the face of great adversity.

At the start of his first term, he faced a historic recession, devastating droughts, forest fires, and floods, as well as the tragic mass shooting in Aurora. Under the governor’s leadership, Colorado confronted those challenges — passing historic gun reform, striking back against climate change, and jumping from 40th in job growth to the number one economy in the country.

“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington but we also need to get things done,” said Hickenlooper in the video. “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.”

The governor has accomplished that ‘progressive change’ by bringing people who don’t always agree to the table. Colorado now has near universal health insurance coverage, thanks to the governor’s bipartisan effort to build one of the most robust exchanges in the country. Additionally, as mayor, Hickenlooper worked cooperatively with suburban mayors, two thirds of them Republicans and Independents, to implement the largest mass-transit plan in state history, adding 119 miles of new rail tracks to the region.

As governor, Hickenlooper also enacted the first methane regulations in the country, following a year long negotiation with the energy industry and environmentalists. Methane is a major contributor to climate change, 30 times more devastating than carbon dioxide. The regulations became the model for California and Canada.

The governor’s ability to bring people together was also demonstrated in his electoral success. Hickenlooper was one of only two Democratic governors to win a swing state in 2014, one of the worst years for Democrats in decades, despite being a top target of the RGA. He left office last month as the most popular governor in decades, in a state evenly divided among Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

“Stand Tall” was produced by the Snyder Pickerill Media Group.

On Monday, the governor also appeared on Good Morning America in a taped segment.

On Thursday, the governor will appear at a hometown send-off event in Denver, alongside Colorado leaders, friends, and musicians, including a performance by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. The event will take place in the Greek Amphitheater at Civic Center Park. 

Following the rally, the governor will participate in a tour of Iowa on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9.

On Sunday, March 10, the governor will be interviewed by BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith at SXSW, in collaboration with the Texas Tribune, at 12:30 PM CT.


John Hickenlooper grew up outside of Philadelphia, the youngest of four children. He attended Wesleyan University and received a bachelor’s in English and a master’s degree in geology.

Hickenlooper moved to Colorado in 1981 to pursue a career in geology. In 1986, a market shift cost him and thousands of other geologists their jobs. He not only lost his job, but also his profession, and was out of work for two years. Hickenlooper decided to start his own business and, using a library book on how to write a business plan, opened a brewpub in an abandoned warehouse district. Rent was cheap in this forgotten corner of Denver, costing only one dollar per square foot per year.

Hickenlooper worked with other small businesses to create a dynamic, new neighborhood that became a national model for urban revitalization. As the brewpub succeeded, so did the community.

He ultimately opened 15 brewpubs and restaurants, almost all in historic buildings, mostly across the Midwest. He also worked closely with other businesses, nonprofits and local governments to help revitalize their downtowns.

Hickenlooper also served on the boards of dozens of civic and nonprofit organizations in Denver, becoming an advocate for the community.

In 2003, Hickenlooper ran for mayor of Denver, in the first campaign of his life. A dark horse candidate who never ran a negative ad, he surprised everyone and won in a landslide.

As mayor, he eliminated a $70 million budget deficit without layoffs or major services cuts -- though he did reduce his own salary by 25 percent.

Hickenlooper worked cooperatively with suburban mayors, two thirds of them Republicans and Independents, to implement a transformative mass-transit plan, called FasTracks, which added 119 miles of new rail tracks to the region.

While mayor, he reduced crime and instituted police reforms, including a Citizen Oversight Commission and an Office of Independent Monitor.

He also expanded pre-K to every 4-year-old and he created the Denver Scholarship Program, which partnered with Denver Public Schools and private donations to help low income kids choose between 31 different technical community colleges and universities. The program has helped 6,376 scholars, and 78 percent of them have stayed enrolled in school or graduated.

His leadership helped transform the city into a destination and major economic hub. In 2005, with an approval rating of 92 percent, Time Magazine rated him one of the five best big city mayors in America.

In 2010, Hickenlooper became the first Denver mayor elected governor in 120 years. He was re-elected in 2014, after running an entirely positive campaign -- a trademark of his time in public service.

In the past eight years, Colorado jumped from 40th in job creation to the number one economy in the nation. As governor, Hickenlooper created an innovative workforce development program called Careerwise. This partnership between educational institutions and business offers apprenticeship programs in a dozen different industries to high school students. To date, it has been modeled by 20 other states.

Hickenlooper brought industry and environmentalists together to reduce methane emissions -- a major contributor to climate change. The regulations they developed became the model for California and Canada and are considered the gold standard across the United States.

Hickenlooper also led Colorado’s recovery effort through major fires and floods, re-opening roads, bridges, and communities in record time. He stood up to the NRA to pass landmark gun safety legislation, including limits on high capacity magazines and universal background checks

He expanded Medicaid and opened a high quality state health insurance exchange program called Connect for Health Colorado, establishing an insurer in every county in the state. Today, nearly 95 percent of Coloradans have healthcare coverage.

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