Hickenlooper said he was joking about ‘relief’ if Amazon goes elsewhere

Author: Joey Bunch - January 24, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

Hickenlooper AmazonColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks to reporters at a press conference in Denver Wednesday. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

A Denver Post story posted Tuesday suggested Gov. John Hickenlooper might be less than enthusiastic that Colorado could become home to Amazon’s second headquarters, but that’s not quite accurate, the governor said Wednesday.

Hickenlooper was asked by other reporters whether his comment might lessen Colorado’s chances for the $5 billion Amazon HQ2 project, as one of 20 finalists. He told the City Club of Denver a day earlier, “There will be a sense of relief if they choose somewhere else, because there are a lot of challenges and lot of hard work we will be avoiding.”

He was joking, he said Wednesday.

The remark, however, was the main point reported by the Post. Hickenlooper said Wednesday  he absolutely wants Amazon in metro Denver.

“I worked as hard as anybody,” Hickenlooper said. “I was on an economic development trip when we put that proposal together, and I think we believed we were the best place around the country, and I still believe that. I was up until 1 o’clock in the morning going over every word of that proposal. I can show you the jewels of mine in it from my sleep-deprived brain.

“So it was never in any way in any sense that we weren’t committed to it, but it’s a ton of work, and I think Amazon is clearly the kind of company that’s based on innovation, and as we face the challenges of growth, as we are now, they’d be a great partner for us. I was making a joke at the beginning of that talking about how you work so hard on these things and sometimes once you win, the real work begins. If you don’t win, for a lot of people, it’s like, ‘Whew, we don’t have to work quite so hard.’ That doesn’t mean we aren’t going after it 100 percent.”

Hickenlooper was asked by reporter at the press conference on electric vehicles Wednesday if he was worried that Amazon officials might take his comment in the Post the wrong way.

“I think any or almost all of the cities they’re looking at have a similar problem” with growth and would expect Amazon to be a partner in meeting the needs of the growth the company helps generate, Hickenlooper said.

But the original story made for good political cannon fodder.

Citing the Post story, Colorado Republican Chairman Jeff Hays accused the governor of trying to undermine Colorado’s economic development.

“Colorado needs to elect a Republican governor in 2018 who doesn’t shy away from ‘hard work,’ especially if it means a stronger economy for Coloradans,” Hays said in a statement sent out to the state’s press. “While other states are doing everything they can to land Amazon’s $5 billion investment, Gov. Hickenlooper is actively undermining Colorado’s chances.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.