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Hick ponders presidential plans with a little help from his friends

Author: Mark Harden - August 27, 2018 - Updated: August 29, 2018

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HickenlooperColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a congressional hearing in late 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

To run or not to run for president? That is the question John Hickenlooper is putting to “old friends” these days.

That’s what Colorado’s Democratic governor said Friday at an event in Denver staged by news outlet Axios.

Hick has been pondering a potential run for the White House for months, if not longer. He told Colorado Politics back in April that he wanted to “spend some time to think about it, … maybe this summer.”

(On the CoPo calendar, summer ends in less than four weeks.)

He said something similar to The Hill in June:

My wife and I have been talking about it for a couple of months and talking to old friends whose opinions we respect and trust. We’ll try and sort through it this summer.

And in July, he told TV host Aaron Harber that “running for it would be really fun.”

Friday, at Axios’ “Hometown Tour” event at The Grid in downtown Denver, Hickenlooper — term limited as Colorado governor — signaled that he was still weighing options. He said this at the Axios event:

I’ve done politics for 15 years … and I still feel like I’m on the steep side of the learning curve. It’s been very, very useful to talk to people and say, “What are the sacrifices?”, “What does it take to be successful?” We’re still working on it.

And reaching even farther back, there was all that talk a year ago about a “unity ticket” of Hickenlooper and Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich (with most people outside Colorado assuming Kasich would be holding down the top spot).

True, there have been cooing noises about Hickenlooper as a national candidate since even before he took office as governor — fueled by a 2011 valentine from George F. Will, who called the ex-beermaker “Colorado’s fresh brew.”

But as noted here earlier this month, Hickenlooper is low on most national pundits’ lists of promising potential Democratic presidential candidates for president in 2020 (if he’s on the lists at all), despite his frequent recognition-boosting appearances out of state recently, such as in the early primary state of New Hampshire in July.

If the former petroleum-industry geologist does run, he may face some pushback from progressives in his own party over his accommodating stance on oil and gas issues.

As Axios reports:

Anne Lee Foster, an organizer of the (Colorado) ballot initiative that would significantly curtail the state’s curtail oil and gas development, said Hickenlooper wouldn’t have the support of many progressives in the state because of his outspoken support of the industry. Progressive leaders and activist environmental groups at the national level have similar sentiments.

If so, Hickenlooper might face trouble in a crowded 2020 primary field of candidates trying to appeal to the Democratic base.

But then, there are other payoffs for running for president besides the grand prize. After all, Joe Biden wound up as vice president after going for all the marbles, while Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton and Rick Perry are among recent examples of presidential contenders who later landed Cabinet posts.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.