In a move that has been inevitable for many weeks, reports indicate that John Hickenlooper will end his presidential bid today. The former Colorado governor’s campaign has been running on fumes since it began. But recently, Hickenlooper has faced increasing external pressure to drop out and run for Senate instead. While there is no word on whether he will do that, it seems there will be one less candidate in the field going forward.
A moderate from a western state, Hickenlooper struggled to find traction in the primary. He became most notable for his warning to his fellow Democrats: that forging ahead with radical policies meant likely losing to Donald Trump. He elaborated on this view in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon:
I think to beat Trump, I think you’re going to do better with someone like myself that has a record of accomplishing bringing people together and accomplishing, you know, challenging solutions. And whoever’s going to take on Trump has got to win in Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those are places where accomplishments are going to matter. It’s not just having a progressive vision and talking a good game. You’re going to have to show you can get things accomplished.
So far, Democrats have not heeded the governor’s warning. In fact, it seems that only extreme progressives are gaining ground in the polls, apart from frontrunner Joe Biden, who is moving more progressive himself. But their success in the primary doesn’t indicate that Hickenlooper is wrong. In fact, it is in the very nature of primaries to move to the extremes.
A Senate Run?
Reports do not expect Hickenlooper to indicate his political future in today’s announcement. But the Los Angeles Times suggests he will probably consider a Senate bid.
Many have pressured Hickenlooper to consider running against incumbent Republican Cory Gardneer, who analysts consider a vulnerable Republican in the 2020 election. Hickenlooper’s popularity as a former governor could prove a serious threat to Gardner.
The next question is whether Hickenlooper will be the first in a number of Democratic candidates to consider dropping out for a smaller race. Recently, many candidates, including Montana Governor Steve Bullock and even rising star Beto O’Rourke have faced similar pressure. Analysts believe such candidates, who have built a national profile, could be critical to turning the Senate for the Democrats in the next election.
But we will need to wait and see whether those candidates follow Hickenlooper’s lead. As the September debates approach, we can expect to see more dropouts. The debate rules are strict, so Democrats need to consider whether a presidential bid is truly in their best interest.