DENVER • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and his allies are taking new steps toward launching a presidential campaign, including interviews with dozens of potential staffers and hiring a pollster and national fundraiser, according to a person close to the Democrat.
He’s launched a political action committee that allows him to raise money nationally and hired his 2014 campaign manager, Brad Komar, to run it. Since the PAC was formed in September, Komar has done 80 interviews with possible campaign staffers, the person said. Of those, Hickenlooper has conducted or participated in 30 interviews.
The operation has hired Democratic veteran Anna Greenberg as its pollster and FK & Co. as national fundraisers; it raises money for Democratic senators including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Hickenlooper isn’t expected to make a formal decision on running for president until his term ends on Jan. 8. The person close to the governor requested anonymity because Hickenlooper hasn’t yet formally launched his campaign.
The moves come as potential presidential contenders step up efforts to get their campaign infrastructures into place. With as many as two dozen possible candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, there is a fierce competition playing out for talent. Hickenlooper’s second term in Colorado has been consumed with speculation over a potential presidential run. But he has sounded less ambiguous in recent days.
“We’re beyond mulling,” Hickenlooper said in an interview this week. “I think we’re engaging people I’ve known and trusted and understand some of the subtleties around running for the highest office.”
Hickenlooper traveled to battleground states like Florida and Georgia during the final weeks of the midterm elections campaign, as well as the key early voting duo of Iowa and New Hampshire to test his expected 2020 message. At one point he flatly told a New Hampshire waitress he was running for president, only to have to add minutes later that he hadn’t formally made a decision and note there were legal issues to saying he was a candidate. It was a typical moment for a notoriously unscripted politician who often quips there’s “no more than five feet between myself and disaster.”
His bid would rely on his unorthodox story and quirky personality to cut through the clutter of a packed Democratic presidential primary field.
“I don’t think anybody else who’s being talked about has been a mayor and a governor and an entrepreneur — not to mention a brewer,” Hickenlooper said in the interview.