Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, facing the reality that his presidential campaign has failed to catch momentum, is considering his future in politics — including the possibility of a run for the U.S. Senate.
Multiple sources close to Hickenlooper, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed he is — amid mounting national pressure — contemplating jumping into the crowded Democratic Senate primary. However, a final decision is far from certain, and there is no apparent timeline.
The news that the two-term governor is reconsidering his political future follows a fresh round of polling from a national Democratic group that shows him far ahead of any of the current candidates in the U.S. Senate primary. And on Tuesday, a political committee for scientists launched a formal “draft” campaign aimed at Hickenlooper.
The Denver Post also confirmed the New York Times’ report Tuesday evening that Hickenlooper met privately with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in Iowa, where the two Coloradans crossed paths at a fundraising dinner. The Times, citing unnamed sources, said they discussed Hickenlooper’s future. However, aides to both politicians cast doubt on the Times’ reporting, telling The Post that neither men shared with their teams what they discussed.
Hickenlooper spent most of last week crisscrossing Iowa in a Winnebago, traveling the width of the state twice. His campaign is still running digital advertising on Facebook. And on Tuesday, the campaign sent multiple tweets on gun control, the environment and trade. He’s scheduled to return to Iowa next week to participate at a union event.
Part of Hickenlooper’s calculation is whether there is a path toward the nomination if — as is likely — he fails to make the next round of national debates.
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National Democrats are pressuring Hickenlooper, who remains popular in Colorado, to run for Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s seat. About a dozen Democrats have announced runs, but the field lacks political star power. No candidate currently in the race has ever won office statewide. Still, two of the leading candidates, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former Obama administration appointee Dan Baer, raised more money for their Senate war chests in the second quarter then Hickenlooper did for his presidential campaign.
Rumors of Hickenlooper’s entry into the race have reverberated through the current Senate primary field. Some of them have spent months on the campaign trail, and few are expected to depart if he enters.
Several people close to the Democratic Senate campaigns have referred to Hickenlooper’s possible entry as an “elephant in the room.”