The teasing is apparently over for former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Even before his presidential bid crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, Democrats had been pleading with him to drop out and take a run at Cory Gardner’s Senate seat. Apparently, Hickenlooper is taking the Vox populi, vox Dei approach because he announced this morning that he will be doing precisely that. (Associated Press)

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday that he will run for the U.S. Senate, becoming the immediate front-runner in a crowded Democratic field vying for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Cory Gardner.

He made his announcement via a video message in which he blasted Washington lawmakers over soaring prescription drug prices, the failure to act on climate change and the use of public lands by developers.

“I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot,” he says. “I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado.”

There’s little question that Gardner is viewed as being vulnerable, but Colorado is so closely divided in political terms that any statewide office is generally seen as being up for grabs. If the Democrats have any hopes at all of taking back the Senate next year, however, Colorado is probably a must-win state for them. Hickenlooper is a proven performer, at least, having won the Governorship twice.

But that doesn’t mean this is a done deal. As we discussed here a couple of weeks ago when these rumors first started swirling, Hickenlooper doesn’t have a clear glide path to the Democratic nomination. There’s already a crowded primary field shaping up, including several very popular Democrats. And none of them have any intention of simply stepping aside to make the former Governor’s life easy.

What impact will this have on the Democrats’ presidential nomination race? Well, it’s tough to say who will be the beneficiary that inherits the five people who might have been considering voting for Hickenlooper, but today’s news isn’t likely to move the polls in any measurable fashion. We’re going to need a lot more people to drop out before we start seeing any real consolidation. In the meantime, Colorado just got a lot more interesting in terms of what happens next November.