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In an about-face from a statement made last February, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper dropped out of the 2020 United States presidential race last week. This morning he announced something he said he would not do: run for the United States Senate. That seat is currently occupied by incumbent Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, who is up for re-election in 2020.

Hickenlooper’s video announcement message begins “I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado.” Noting that his hope for a seat in Washington can help him focus on health issues such as preexisting conditions, and prescription drug prices. He also pointed out his concerns over President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plans to open public land to developers.

“I don’t think Cory Gardner understands that the games he’s playing with Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are hurting the people of Colorado,” said Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper served Colorado as a highly-popular governor from 2011 to 2019. He launched his presidential campaign cautiously, seeking input throughout the state and the country. His message: his bipartisan ability to get things done, progress on the state’s healthcare initiatives, as well as his business background.

(Photo courtesy of PBS)

The campaign never garnered much more than one percent of public support but allowed him to introduce himself on the national stage. As gun violence erupted in El Paso and Dayton, he was interviewed on several national news programs because of Colorado’s experience in handling mass shootings, including the Aurora Theater shooting five years ago.

As he exited the presidential race last week, Hickenlooper said he was considering a Senate run. Colorado is one of several states where Democrats who are, or were running for president, are now under pressure from their parties to help take back control of the Senate. The GOP currently has a 53-47 Senate majority.

Gardner is considered vulnerable in the upcoming election. According to The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, the race for his Senate seat is rated a “toss-up.”

In making the announcement Thursday morning, Hickenlooper again stressed his bipartisan ability to get things done saying, “We ought to be working together to move this country forward and stop the political nonsense.”

He enters a field crowded with around a dozen Democratic contenders for the Colorado Senate seat. They include former Ambassador Dan Baer, who visited Salida a few weeks ago, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Climate Activist Diana Bray and Community Activist Lorena Garcia.