John Hickenlooper joins crowded Senate race in Colorado

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 10. 2019.PlayCharlie Neibergall/AP, FILE
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Onetime 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper launched his campaign to unseat GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Thursday morning, entering a crowded Democratic primary to challenge the vulnerable Republican incumbent.

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"I know changing Washington is hard but I want to give it a shot," Hickenlooper said in a new video announcing his Senate campaign. "I'm not done fighting for the people of Colorado."

The former governor, who dropped out of the even more crowded presidential Democratic field just a week ago, in his Senate campaign video took direct aim at Washington politics and Gardner.

"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," Hickenlooper said. "We ought to be working together to move this country forward and stop the political nonsense."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 10. 2019. Charlie Neibergall/AP, FILE
Democratic presidential candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 10. 2019.

Hickenlooper enters an already crowded Democratic primary in Colorado's Senate race where 11 other candidates are competing to win the party nomination to challenge one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in 2020. But the former governor is already seen as one of the more viable Democrats in the race because of his existing recognition boosted by his seven-month presidential run.

One of the Democrats running for the Colorado Senate race, former U.S. Ambassador Dan Baer, responded to the news of Hickenlooper's new Senate campaign saying "new voices" are "ready to lead" the state in a statement.

"There are new voices ready to lead across our state and in the U.S. Senate, voices who understand that there is no back to normal, there’s only forward to normal. That’s why I was running yesterday, and that’s why I’ll be running tomorrow," Baer said in a statement.

The news of Hickenlooper's Senate run doesn't come out of the blue: In May, Hickenlooper expressed confidence in his potential candidacy in the Senate race during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," touting his record in the state as "both as an entrepreneur in the private sector, but also as a mayor and a governor."

And just two days before Hickenlooper ended his presidential campaign, 314 Action, a federal PAC, launched a “Draft Hick for Senate” campaign, urging the former governor to end his presidential candidacy to run for Senate.

As more 2020 Democrats are ending their presidential bid, Hickenlooper was the first - and potentially, not the last Democratic presidential candidate to wind up running for Senate in his home state. Shortly before Hickenlooper announced his Senate bid, fellow Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington announced Wednesday night his decision to drop out of the presidential race.