- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2019

John Hickenlooper ended his long-shot bid for the White House on Thursday but said he would consider jumping into Colorado’s Senate race instead.

The state’s former governor says he sees frustrated voters looking for new options — but his campaign was unable to gain traction in a crowded field of about two dozen candidates.

“Today, I’m ending my campaign for president — but I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together,” Mr. Hickenlooper said in a video recorded statement.

He had warned that the party needed to explicitly reject socialism or face the prospects of an electoral disaster in 2020, and he even earned boos when he tried to deliver that message to attendees at a Democratic convention in California.

But he was far from the only one delivering that message, and his attempts were lost amid the focus on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the biggest name among the more moderate candidates in the field.



In the end, Mr. Hickenlooper barely registered in the polls and struggled in fundraising. The slightly more than $1 million he reported in the last quarter was well behind contenders such as Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who brought in nearly $25 million.

“The moderate base of the party is very narrow, and Biden really has all of it,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado-based pollster. “I don’t think there was much room, and I don’t think he was able to exploit what room there was.”

Mr. Hickenlooper qualified for the first two debates, but was in serious danger of being left off the stage next month. He also went through a campaign shake-up last month that saw the departure of several top staffers.

Party leaders had urged him to forgo the presidential campaign and challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner next year.

Mr. Hickenlooper had batted those suggestions away, but on Thursday he sounded open to the possibility.

He first would have to win the Democratic nomination, and other candidates have already entered the race.

“His skill set is on the executive side, and he’s got some fairly experienced, successful legislators to compete against,” said Dave Kopel, research director at the Colorado-based Independence Institute. “He does start with enormously higher name recognition than any of his Democratic opponents.”

His past lack of interest could hurt, though.

Mr. Hickenlooper told everyone who asked that he wasn’t cut out to be a senator and didn’t want the job, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, one of the Democratic candidates, said in a radio interview.

Political analysts expect other Democratic presidential candidates to follow Mr. Hickenlooper out of the race.

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California dropped out last month.

But Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, another 2020 contender who has been mentioned as a potential Senate candidate, rejected that idea Thursday.

“We have some great people running — I’ll support them,” he said on CNN. “We’ve got to have somebody at the top of the ticket that can actually help red states. There’s only one that’s actually won a red state, and that’s me.”

Other candidates, meanwhile, are undergoing campaign makeovers.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, of Texas, on Thursday announced a shift in his strategy, vowing to take his fight to areas where President Trump has been “terrorizing” and “demeaning” people — places that don’t necessarily include the standard early presidential states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mr. O’Rourke has rebuffed requests to end his presidential campaign and make another run for Senate.

His campaign reset comes three months after a previous rethink, when he acknowledged he needed to do a better job of getting his message out to a national audience.

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