John Hickenlooper: Everything you need to know about the former 2020 presidential candidate

Hickenlooper suspended his campaign due to low poll numbers and a lack of donors

ByMina Kaji, Christine Szabo, and Bobby Gehlen
August 15, 2019, 1:27 PM

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been described as a "politician as unusual as his name." He turned his success as a brewery owner into a successful political career, becoming the mayor of Denver and then governor.

Out of the running: Due to sinking poll numbers, lack of donors and little chance to make the third presidential debate, Hickenlooper announced he suspended his campaign. In a statement posted to Twitter, he said he would give a U.S. Senate run "some serious thought."

Name: John Hickenlooper

Party: Democrat

Date of Birth: Feb. 7, 1952

Hometown: Narberth, Pennsylvania

Family: Husband to Robin Pringle and father to son Teddy, who he had with his first wife, Helen Thorpe

Education: He attended college and graduate school at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in geology.

What He Does Now: Entrepreneur

What He Used To Do: Hickenlooper's first career was in geology. He worked in Colorado for Buckhorn Petroleum in the early 1980's before he was laid off. In 1988, he co-founded Colorado's first brewpub, the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Fifteen years later, in 2003, Hickenlooper entered the political sphere, serving as the 43rd mayor of Denver for two terms. He received widespread recognition for successfully marketing the city of Denver as the place to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In 2011, he was elected Colorado's 42nd governor. He was re-elected but unable to run for a third term due to constitutional restrictions. During his time as governor, he was vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association, chairman of the National Governors Association and a member of the Western Governors Association.

PHOTO: Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., is seen in the senate subway in the Capitol on Sept. 7, 2017.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., is seen in the senate subway in the Capitol on Sept. 7, 2017.
Tom Williams/Getty Images

Key life/career moments:

Hickenlooper grew up middle-class in a suburb of Philadelphia. He is the son of Anne and John Wright Hickenlooper. His paternal great-grandfather was Union general Andrew Hickenlooper. He was raised by his mother after his father died when he was young. As mayor, Hickenlooper eliminated a $70 million budget deficit and attracted the 2008 Democratic National Convention to Denver, Colorado. A Washington Post op-ed called Hickenlooper the "opposite" of President Donald Trump and the two-term governor told Time magazine in October that he agreed it was true in regard to how he runs his business.

Where he stands on some of the issues:

Hickenlooper has been a strong advocate for gun control legislation after 12 people were killed at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. He went on to sign three major gun control proposals that banned high-capacity magazines and required background checks for any firearm transfer within Colorado. Hickenlooper also has spoken out against Trump's idea to arm teachers after the Parkland, Florida, shooting in February 2018.

In 2012, Colorado passed a measure to seek the legalization of recreational marijuana use. It allowed adults to purchase marijuana from dispensaries and grow up to six plants privately. Hickenlooper was strongly against the passage of the amendment, but after it passed he said he would have to respect the will of his constituents, despite their wishes being against federal law. His resistance to weed legalization has weakened over the past few years.

Hickenlooper has decried Trump's foreign policy as "isolationist and reckless," but has also taken swipes at some in his own party who he says "would have the United States withdraw from global engagement."

"That makes us less safe. The only way to full security is through constant engagement. And by reviving U.S. leadership, we actually make our country safer. But we also make it more prosperous," Hickenlooper said on ABC's "This Week" in May 2019. He has said his major foreign policy credentials include overseeing Colorado's six military bases and forging economic relationships with countries like Israel.


Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper raised just over $1.1 million during the second quarter, according to the FEC. His campaign spent more money than it raised this quarter, spending more than $1.6 million. The campaign has less than $850,000 cash on hand.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper wave to supporters after her speech at Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colo., Aug. 3, 2016.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper wave to supporters after her speech at Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colo., Aug. 3, 2016.
Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images

What You May Not Know About Him:

He is a Quaker.

When he was mayor, he set up the Denver Scholarship Foundation to help local children afford college.

During the 2016 election cycle, he did not support Hillary Clinton initially. In 2015, he expressed concern about her candidacy, citing the investigation into her private email server. He later hosted a fundraiser for her at his home and met with her when she was trying to find a running mate.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Hickenlooper reportedly considered forming a unity ticket in 2020.

He played a politician in the 2010 movie "Casino Jack."

ABC News' Matthew Claiborne and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.

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