Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, he announced Thursday.
“Today, I’m ending my campaign for president,” he said in a videotaped statement. “But I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together.”
The announcement came as he appeared unlikely to qualify for the September primary debate.
Hickenlooper may turn to the Senate in 2020, as he is considered a strong candidate to run against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
“I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate,” he said. “They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought.”
In a crowded field of candidates, Hickenlooper was notable for his loud opposition to the term “socialism” and for his unusual path to politics. Before his two terms as Denver mayor ― the office he held before becoming governor ― Hickenlooper worked in the private sector, first as a geologist for oil companies, and later opening a brewpub in Denver.
His two terms as governor were marked by passing progressive policies in a purple state, though during the 2020 Democratic primary his positions were squarely moderate relative to some others in the left-leaning field.
Since announcing his presidential bid in March, Hickenlooper has failed to gain traction. He was not the only moderate candidate in the fie, often overlooked by those who might gravitate toward former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). In fact, he wasn’t even the only candidate from Colorado, with Sen. Michael Bennet also in the running.
At the California Democratic Party State Convention in June, Hickenlooper was loudly booed for saying that “socialism is not the answer.”
Despite the negative response, he held firm to that position at the first Democratic debate, often going after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has touted democratic socialism as the future of the party.
“Well, I think that the bottom line is, if we don’t clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists,” he said onstage.
HuffPost polling data released shortly after the debate indicated that Hickenlooper had again failed to stand out.
In July, his campaign troubles continued as five key staffers — including his campaign manager and national finance director — said they would be leaving his campaign.
In the debate later that month, Hickenlooper again went after Sanders, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who shares many of the Vermont senator’s more sweeping progressive views.
But again, polling data following the debate showed Warren and Sanders getting the better of the exchange. Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters who tuned in were 15 percentage points likelier to say it worsened rather than improved their opinions of Hickenlooper.
Coming into the race, Hickenlooper always knew his candidacy was considered a long shot.
“I’m sure you’ve seen many of the same stories I did. ‘What chance does he have?’ And, ‘He doesn’t take a strong enough position on this or that,’” Hickenlooper told Politico just weeks after launching his campaign. “Which is sort of how science works, right? You don’t jump to snap judgments. You try to make sure you get all the facts, and think it through, then make better decisions.”
Though his campaign fell out of touch with Democratic voters, Hickenlooper remained firm in his stances throughout the race, embracing his role as the critic of socialism.