Hickenlooper and Bennet campaign rumors fueled by anonymous sources.
It appears two high-profile politicians from Colorado are thinking about running in the 2020 presidential race. “Appears” is the operative word because neither Democrat has formally confirmed a bid. Rather, their intentions to run are floated largely by anonymous sources.
On Dec. 3, Colorado Public Radio reported Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is “seriously thinking” about running for president, citing three anonymous sources who talked with CPR in the fall.
And, on Dec. 5, The Associated Press reported Gov. John Hickenlooper has taken “new steps toward launching a presidential campaign.” From the article, it appears he has done plenty short of announcing his campaign. The AP reports Hickenlooper interviewed dozens of potential staffers and hired a pollster and national fundraiser. The AP cited their source as a “person close to the Democrat.”
Meanwhile, the AP reported Bennet has been in contact with influential Democrats in Iowa — the first caucus state — and CPR reported he is “considering a presidential bid,” citing “three people who confirmed to CPR News that they talked with him about it earlier this fall.”
Speaking of early caucus and primary states, when Hickenlooper visited a New Hampshire cafe, he told a worker there he was “going to run for president.” He quickly backtracked, however, by clarifying, “To be honest, I haven’t made the final decision. And if I say I’m absolutely doing it then there are all kinds of legal ramifications.”
Such legal ramifications under the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission, could be another reason why some sources might want to remain anonymous. If a source flat-out said Hickenlooper is running for president, and was later identified as a member of Hickenlooper’s presidential campaign team — if and when one materializes — would such statement be problematic?
Not only are Bennet and Hickenlooper both moderate Democrats from Colorado, they are also friends and former co-workers. Hickenlooper jump-started Bennet’s political career in Colorado when he hired Bennet as his chief of staff.
Even though both fall under the umbrella of ‘moderate,’ there are key differences in their politics.
In many ways, Hickenlooper is the embodiment of a certain Colorado attitude. He worked as a geologist for Buckhorn Petroleum then later found success as the friendly, quirky owner of a Denver brewery and made the most of his popularity by becoming Denver mayor, then Colorado governor. His entrepreneurial success reflects his pro-business stance. According to ontheissues.com, he is a centrist.
Bennet, on the other hand, leans more left, and more populist, according to ontheissues.com. He has voted more frequently in support of small business and curtailing tax breaks for large corporations, and his stance on some social issues, such as abortion access, reflects a slightly more progressive bent, according to the same website. Thus, even though both politicians are moderates, one would expect them to build different platforms for their national campaigns.
Because Colorado is a purple state, both potential candidates have experience reaching across the aisle and appealing to a wide range of voters on critical issues, such as energy and the environment. In the current era of polarized politics, it remains to be seen how voters will value such candidacies — should they arise.