This morning we received the official announcement of yet another candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary that will likely drop like more of a firecracker than a bombshell. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is officially in the race. If you don’t live in Colorado and are wondering who he is, don’t feel bad. His national name recognition is so low that he doesn’t even register in the early primary polling, so you’re not alone. But, as CNN reported after the official announcement was released, Hickenlooper clearly seems to be in it to win it.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday announced he is running for president, launching a 2020 campaign in which he will lean on his Western roots and decades of executive experience.
He made the announcement in a video titled “Standing Tall,” which tracks Hickenlooper’s life from laid-off geologist, to owner of a brew pub, to mayor of Denver and to governor, and touts the Democrat’s experience in a variety of fields as a key reason he should be the person to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. Hickenlooper casts the President as a “bully” in the more than two-minute video.
“I’m running for president because we’re facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for,” Hickenlooper says in the video as images of Trump play. “As a skinny kid with coke bottle glasses and a funny last name, I’ve stood up to my fair share of bullies.”
Here’s the video of his announcement, just in case you want to get the flavor of his campaign style. It’s less than three minutes long.
So Hickenlooper is going with the nerd image of the skinny kid with “coke bottle glasses and a funny last name” who goes on to become a scientist and then a successful politician. And if we weren’t living in the middle of an era with Trump on the right and rampant socialism swallowing the left, it probably wouldn’t be a bad pitch. On the surface, he would have been seen as a fairly plausible (if long-shot) candidate. He lacks legislative or foreign policy experience, but he’s been the mayor of a large city and a two-term governor.
He also ticks most of the usual boxes that Democrats previously looked for. He supports the usual Democratic platform points. He’s anti-gun rights, bragging that he “beat the NRA” in his home state with gun control laws. He’s pro-abortion, mostly liberal on immigration issues and opposes the death penalty. And he does all of this while still maintaining the image of a more moderate Democrat who can swing toward the middle and not scare off the independent voters with too high of a far-left crazy quotient.
But this leaves him with the same problems plaguing many other candidates this cycle. He doesn’t reflect the hot new trend of socialism that much of the base is craving. And even if their primary voters reject the socialists, if they wanted a moderate, experienced statesman who’s another older, straight, white Christian male, they’ve already got Joe Biden, who has a far more impressive resume. (Or they should have him shortly, anyway.)
I suppose miracles sometimes still happen and perhaps Hickenlooper will surprise us with a surge in the polls. But that’s an awfully steep hill for him to climb in the increasingly crowded Democratic field.