'A hot mess': Hickenlooper stumbles into Democratic primary
DENVER (AP) - Former Governor John Hickenlooper was supposed to be the Democrats' worry-free solution to the Colorado Senate race, but he stumbled heavily in the weeks leading up to the party's primary on June 30.
Hickenlooper opposed a subpoena from the Colorado Ethics Commission and only testified after the non-partisan panel despised him. Then the commission found that he had violated the laws of state ethics by accepting free travel as a governor.
While the protests against police violence against blacks raged, Hickenlooper mutilated his explanation of the key phrase "Black Lives Matter" and had to apologize for a 6-year joke in which he whipped politicians against slaves of "an old slave" ship ", faster to row.
The 68-year-old brewery tycoon, who became a politician, has never been a smooth activist. His impartial inclinations, blank style, and hackneyed jokes were part of what made him popular with Colorado voters, helped him win two races in strong Republican years, and convinced the National Democrats that he was their best attempt, one get hold of a critical seat in the Senate that could help them take the place of a majority.
But if Hickenlooper emerges from the first win but is struggling, his stumbling blocks could give the man he'd face in November a lifeline: Cory Gardner, widely regarded as the nation's most vulnerable Republican senator. Hickenlooper's problems this year reflect how the state has moved to the left since its last election in 2014.
"It's an indication of how much Denver and the entire state have changed," said Floyd Ciruli, a bipartisan analyst, about Hickenlooper's suffering. “We are no longer a swing state. We have become a more liberal state and the Democrats have become a more liberal party. "
Hickenlooper's rival, former Colorado House spokesman Andrew Romanoff, is another long-time Colorado Democrat who grew up politically when members of this party had to convince the state's pragmatic voters that they were not radicals.
Romanoff lost his last two races - in 2010 he sold his home to fund an outsider challenge to Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, and in 2014 he unsuccessfully challenged a Republican congressman in a swing district. Romanoff is now campaigning for the Green New Deal and single-paying healthcare, hoping to hit Hickenlooper from the left in a condition Bernie Sanders won on Super Tuesday.
Romanoff's allies argue that Hickenlooper's suffering is more than just ideology. "People are realizing it now. This guy they put on a pedestal is a mess, ”said former Democratic MP Joe Salazar, who often met Hickenlooper at the Statehouse.
Hickenlooper's nationwide profile, high approval ratings and campaign deep bank account should give him an insurmountable advantage over Romanoff. On Thursday, he will publish a recommendation from Wellington Webb, a black former Mayor of Denver, and has announced a $ 3.7 million fundraiser since April 1.
The Republicans openly opted for Romanoff and saw him as a weaker challenger against Gardner in November. On Tuesday, both Gardner and the National Republican Senatorial Committee published ads beating Hickenlooper, an unusual move during a democratic primary. The majority of the PAC Democratic Senate spent $ 1 million to send a complaint in defense of the former governor.
During a debate on Tuesday evening, Hickenlooper justified his case with the choice. "I haven't lost in the state of Colorado and Andrew hasn't won an election in 14 years," said Hickenlooper.
Romanoff replied: "You will not attack me because I violated the State Ethics Act, because I did not." In an interview on Wednesday, Romanoff said of Hickenlooper: "He is now jeopardizing our chances of beating Cory Gardner."
Hickenlooper's campaign said he was not available for an interview on Wednesday.
Hickenlooper had already followed the ethics question before he started the race. As a self-made multimillionaire, he faced a complaint from the Republicans when he resigned from his position that he had illegally accepted private jet and car trips during his tenure as governor. Hickenlooper and his supporters argued that the complaint was an obvious attempt by the GOP to tarnish his image.
The ethical problem was rarely raised in Hickenlooper's short application to nominate the Democratic President. Then the Senate Democrats, alarmed by an unwieldy area code for the party's nomination to challenge Gardner, recruited Hickenlooper to run for the Senate instead.
The ethical investigation into Hickenlooper was slow, even if every candidate except Romanoff got out. Hickenlooper was ready to testify during a face-to-face hearing in March that was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. When the commission proposed to testify Hickenlooper during a virtual hearing, he protested and even went to the State Court to overturn the commission's subpoena on the grounds that it violated his rights.
In the end, Hickenlooper testified on video, and the commission found that he was violating Colorado's ethics law by accepting a private plane flight to a ceremony called USS Colorado and accepting a limo ride at the exclusive Bilderberg meetings in Rome. The commission fined Hickenlooper USD 2,750 - the highest fine in its history and twice the estimated cost of the two trips.
While protests broke out against the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, Hickenlooper was asked during an online forum what "Black Lives Matter" meant to him. He said it means "every life is important" - a phrase that many activists see as opposed to their efforts to focus on discrimination against black people. Hickenlooper quickly apologized and said he had "stumbled" in his statement.
On Monday, Hickenlooper had to apologize again - this time after a black member of the Denver school board tweeted a 6-year-old video of the governor at the time joking about how politicians' schedules are so full that they are like oarsmen “An old one” is a slave ship ”is flogged to go faster.
"Hickenlooper isn't showing up for blacks until it's time for an election," said Tay Anderson, a member of the school board, a leader of the Floyd protests in Colorado, who supported Romanoff.
Hickenlooper supporters say the goodwill he has built during two terms as mayor of Denver and two others as governor will bring him through.
"He's a lot, but personally corrupt and racial insensitive is definitely not his fault," said Alan Salazar, a former aide. "I'm pretty sure that most Colorado voters know that."
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