John Hickenlooper (copy)
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Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a press conference regarding the Lake Christine wildfire in El Jebel on July 6, 2018. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times via AP)

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Floyd Ciruli, one of Colorado’s most noted pollsters and a go-to pundit on state politics, seems to be of two minds about Gov. John Hickenlooper’s chances as a presidential candidate.

It’s a topic he’s been asked about frequently lately, such as by KOA radio’s Ed Greene and Marty Lenz last week.

Nearing the end of his eight years in office, Hickenlooper “maintains an approval rating that puts him in the top 10 among fellow governors,” the Ciruli Associates opinion gleaner notes in his blog.

He cites a Morning Consult poll that places Hick’s net approval rating at a positive 23 percentage points. Compare that to President Donald Trump’s negative 13 points.

“Given he’s at the end of his term and governing in the age of polarization that produces more gridlock than accomplishments, Hickenlooper has done reasonably well,” Ciruli said.

Hickenlooper appears to be chewing over a run/don’t run decision this summer, and has said it would be “really fun” to seek the White House.

But while Hickenlooper and his possible presidential aspirations have been a hot topic here in Colorado, and he has been making lots of appearances in other states in recent months, the former restaurateur and brewer is not yet on the national radar, Ciruli says.

A recent Washington Examiner appraisal of the chances of Democrats in the 2020 presidential race focuses on nine potential candidates and tacks on three second-tier hopefuls. No one on either list is named Hickenlooper.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll in June of Democratic voters on their 2020 presidential picks didn’t include the Colorado governor (Joe Biden came out on top).

And a Washington Post list in July of its picks of the “top 15 contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020” also leaves Hickenlooper off (although he’s among 11 others labeled as “worth watching”).

In fact, notes Denverite, there has also been chatter about Hickenlooper staying home and challenging U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020.

As Ciruli puts it in his blog:

Although the presidential field is wide open, it is crowded with both D.C. liberal icons, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, newcomers, like Kamala Harris, and, of course, the establishment-types, like Joe Biden. Hickenlooper is low on most lists.

He had this to say in a Denver Post op-ed over the weekend:

(Hickenlooper) doesn’t have a national profile beyond being the governor of a small western state that’s most famous for legalized marijuana. Nor does he represent one of the power interest groups in the party or have great personal wealth. Yet, not being part of the party establishment is one of his appealing qualities.

But in his blog, Ciruli adds this:

As of today, the odds look long, but it’s early and things can change quickly. Think of 2016.

Managing Editor, Colorado Politics

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