The Slatest

Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper to Drop Out of Democratic Presidential Race

Democratic candidate  John Hickenlooper during the second Democratic primary debate on July 30.
Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper during the second Democratic primary debate on July 30.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will drop out of the Democratic presidential race Thursday, according to multiple media reports, after his candidacy based on moderate crossover appeal failed to gain traction with Democratic voters or donors. Hickenlooper wasn’t in the race long after announcing his long-shot candidacy in March and was already facing staff defections over his inability to make a mark on the field. In July, he replaced senior staff in an effort to revive his campaign and declared victory when his national polling numbers cracked 2 percent.

Despite a series of successful campaigns in Colorado, Hickenlooper’s brand of unifying centrism was ill-fitting for the current Democratic field awash with policy ideas from the left. The 67-year-old’s tepid debate performances left him looking at being booted from the debate stage when the barrier to entry is raised at the end of August. By the end of the month, in order to participate in the third debate, candidates will have to have received donations from at least 130,000 donors and garnered at least 2 percent in four qualifying national or early-state polls over the past month.

Not being on the debate stage didn’t give Hickenlooper much of a path to anything really and as he bows out of this race the Democratic leadership hopes he will jump into another one. The Colorado Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Cory Gardner is up in 2020, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been pressing Hickenlooper to use his centrist powers where they might do the most good—in politically purple Colorado. “Recent polls showed Mr. Hickenlooper with a more than 50-point lead over the current leading Democrats in the race for party’s nomination for the Senate seat,” according to the New York Times. “They also showed him ahead of Mr. Gardner by 13 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup.”