Former Gov. John Hickenlooper declared himself a presidential candidate Monday, and here’s how national news outlets reacted.
The Washington Post: “As governor, Hickenlooper presided over steady economic growth, the legalization of marijuana — which he initially opposed — and a surge that put Democrats in full control of a once-conservative state. ... Few Democrats with 2020 ambitions have touted ... team-ups with Republicans, and few have tangled as much with their party’s left. In 2018, Hickenlooper threatened to call a special legislative session to undo an anti-fracking ballot measure, if voters passed it; he backed down only after the measure failed.”
The New York Times: Hickenlooper is “a socially progressive, pro-business Democrat who has called himself an ‘extreme moderate’ ... But even in Colorado, fellow Democrats have expressed skepticism that his signature low-key approach will translate to national success. ‘I don’t think John has at all defined why he is running,’ said Rick Ridder, a political strategist and longtime friend of Mr. Hickenlooper. ‘There are very few people I know who wake up and want to go caucus to support a raging moderate.’”
Wall Street Journal: “While most of the candidates preceding him into the race are defining themselves as progressives, Mr. Hickenlooper is the first of several candidates expected to join the contest from the party’s more centrist ranks. Unlike several of the other Democrats in the race, he hasn’t embraced a call for a single-payer health system. His campaign-launch video paints the 67-year-old as the architect of an urban renewal in Denver, as a two-term mayor of the city, and the steward of Colorado’s booming economy as a two-term governor.”
CNN: “Hickenlooper is seen as a dark horse for the presidency, in part because he doesn’t have the national profile of other Democratic candidates, but he and his team hope that his record of achievement in Colorado, including his ability to work with Republicans, will set him apart.”
USA Today: “He is expected to campaign on his ability to implement Democratic goals in a politically divided state and to try to stand out from the largely progressive group of Democratic candidates by portraying himself as a pragmatist. Hickenlooper has hedged on supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.”
NBC News: “(Hickenlooper is) positioning himself as fighter for progressive priorities who won’t shy away from a brawl with President Donald Trump. ... His introductory video ... leans heavily on what he accomplished during his two terms as governor of Colorado. He touts crafting environmentally friendly methane emissions laws in tandem with environmentalists and oil and gas companies; expanding Medicaid in Colorado; and passing tough gun control legislation after a mass shooter killed 12 people in Aurora.”
CBS News: “He was a popular, pro-business governor. He left Colorado with a strong economy and his tenure was marked by an emphasis on consensus-building. ... Hickenlooper was the first Denver mayor to be elected Colorado governor in 120 years. And he won election as mayor of Denver with no political experience. He was re-elected in 2014 after running an entirely positive campaign.”
Los Angeles Times: “He enters the race with relatively low name recognition compared with potential rivals including Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden — and, unlike former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Bernie Sanders, hasn’t much of a national fundraising list to draw on. But Hickenlooper, 67, is betting that his biography-driven campaign and carefully cultivated brand of progressive pragmatism will help him rise in a wide-open primary field.”
Washington Examiner: “Hickenlooper’s presidential bid quickly drew derision from the Republican National Committee on Monday. ‘John Hickenlooper is the latest tax-and-spend liberal to join the race,’ said RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens. ‘But according to Hickenlooper, he’s actually ‘a lot more progressive’ than his far-left opponents. In a primary dominated by socialist policies like the $93 trillion ‘Green New Deal,’ that puts him way outside the mainstream.’”
FiveThirtyEight: “In early surveys of the Democratic field — which mostly reflect name recognition at this point — he is polling between 0 and 1 percent.1 Only 22 percent of Democratic respondents even have an opinion of him, according to an average of national favorability polls since the beginning of the year. And he’s not on the radar of many Democratic activists in early states, either. What Hickenlooper does have going for him is that he may be more skilled than most at getting his name out there. He’s run some of the best political ads in recent memory, including endearing spots about parking meters and his humble wardrobe, which helped him stand out in a wide-open field (sound familiar?) during his first run for mayor. And later ads in which he went skydiving and took a shower — fully clothed — were nothing if not memorable.
His quirky personality was his secret political weapon in Colorado, but it’s unclear how it’ll shake out on a national stage, where his demographics — older, white, male — may pigeonhole him as a retread.”
The Associated Press: “Though as governor Hickenlooper prided himself for staying above partisan fights, he has argued his record as a former governor and big-city mayor distinguishes him from a broad field of Democratic presidential aspirants who are backing ambitious liberal plans on health care, taxes and the climate.”
Politico: “The former Colorado governor begins at a disadvantage [in early-caucus state Iowa], with low name recognition and a smaller campaign infrastructure than most rivals. While his name is a familiar one to older Iowa voters — a cousin, the late Bourke Hickenlooper, served as a Republican governor in the 1940s and later represented the state in the Senate for 24 years — John Hickenlooper was excluded from the latest poll.”