Tag Archives: Sen. Cory Gardner

Hickenlooper: Heading Out and In?

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper – running for Senate after all? (Photo Moritz Hager)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 6, 2019 — Some politicos are saying that former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is poised to end his failed presidential campaign and return home to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). The speculation is largely coming because new Hickenlooper for Senate campaign domain names were just registered in the past few days. That, and in an interview Sunday on satellite radio, Hickenlooper said he would “be a fool” to continue running for president if he couldn’t see improvement in the polls.

Democratic leaders had long attempted to recruit Hickenlooper into the Senate race, but he steadfastly refused to be swayed from becoming a presidential candidate. He went further than rejecting the idea of running statewide in 2020 when he even expressed some disdain for the Senate as a political body. Hickenlooper seemingly ruled out serving in the Senate saying in February that, “I’m not cut out to be a senator,” and that, “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups…”

In his absence, no less than 14 Colorado Democrats have come forward to seek the party nomination to oppose Sen. Gardner, who began the 2020 cycle as arguably the most vulnerable Republican incumbent because his state is moving decidedly leftward. Ten months later, however, Sen. Gardner’s re-election chances appear stronger.

Of the 14 active candidates, six have electoral experience and seven have served in either elective, appointed, or political party positions. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold leads the group, and former state House Speaker and statewide candidate Andrew Romanoff, ex-state House Majority Leader Alice Madden, former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, state Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver), ex-US Ambassador Dan Baer, and former Boulder County Democratic chair Ellen Burnes follow.

It is unclear just how many from this group, if any, would step aside for Hickenlooper, who is certainly a weakened political figure considering his national performance and given that he previously has said he doesn’t want the federal office. Therefore, it is conceivable that he will have to face what could be a difficult Democratic primary, and then Sen. Gardner, who is widely regarded as the best campaigner in the Republican candidate stable. According to the latest Federal Election Commission disclosure report, Sen. Gardner’s campaign account possessed just under $5 million at the June 30 deadline.

Though money will be no object for either Sen. Gardner or the eventual Democratic nominee, Colorado voting history is a major factor. The state has been trending much more Democratic since the turn of the century, and President Trump only recorded 43 percent of the vote in his loss here to Hillary Clinton. Prior to that, the last Republican to carry Colorado was George W. Bush in 2004.

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2020 Senate Review – Part I

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2018 — Only nearing the end of March in the off-year, already a great deal of early 2020 Senate action has occurred. Thus, it is a good time to begin reviewing all 34 statewide federal races that will adorn next year’s ballot in a three-part series. Today, we look at the first dozen in alphabetical order:

  • Alabama – Sen. Doug Jones (D) – From the Republican perspective, this could be the most important race in the country. The GOP must convert this seat in order to provide a better cushion to protect their Senate majority.
    The 2017 special election became a debacle for the Republicans that allowed Sen. Jones to unexpectedly slip past politically wounded former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Already, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) have announced their 2020 Senate candidacies. Judge Moore claims to be seriously considering running again, which could again create the same adverse situation that previously plagued the Republicans. Toss-up

  • Alaska – Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – At this point, there seems little in the way of opposition developing either in the Republican primary or general election against Sen. Sullivan. Safe Republican

  • Arizona – Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) – Another critically important Senate race that has already featured substantial action. Sen. McSally’s appointment came after her defeat in the 2018 Senate race and she faces a difficult campaign ahead to win the 2020 special election. Whoever wins next year serves the remaining two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. The seat next comes in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2022.
    Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson), has already announced his candidacy and will be a major candidate. In early April, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix), whose ex-wife, Kate Gallego, was just elected Mayor of Phoenix in a special election, is expected to enter the Democratic primary. Since Arizona holds a late August primary, a tough Democratic nomination fight would benefit McSally just as her difficult 2018 Republican primary played to Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s advantage. Toss-up

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Colorado & Hickenlooper —
Decisions, Decisions

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2019 — Saying he’s “not cut out to be a senator,” former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said that he will either run for president in 2020 or no office at all. He further stated that, “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups … But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper – not running for Senate (Photo Moritz Hager)

While Hickenlooper is definitive that he won’t enter the Democratic senatorial primary to challenge first-term GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, he also has made lesser-than-expected moves toward entering the presidential race.

With already a dozen Democrats either officially entering the race or forming exploratory committees, and ex-Vice President Joe Biden set to announce his decision about becoming a candidate in the coming month, Hickenlooper, with low national name identification, may be waiting too long to generate a serious effort. Therefore, the more time that passes, the greater the chances of this ex-two-term governor and Denver mayor not being on the ballot at all in 2020.

The Monday announcement was certainly good news for Sen. Gardner. Possibly in the most vulnerable position of any Republican senator standing for re-election in 2020 – largely because his state has voted decidedly Democratic in the past several elections – the Colorado and national party leadership had hoped to recruit Hickenlooper into the Senate race. Most political observers clearly believe he would be Gardner’s strongest general election challenger.

Right now, mostly minor candidates have announced for the senate in Colorado. The two most prominent Democratic figures are former state House speaker and defeated US Senate and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff, and ex-state senator and defeated gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, who finished third in the 2018 party primary that nominated current governor, Jared Polis.

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Senate: Early Handicapping

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 17, 2019 — The 2020 Senate election cycle features 34 races instead of 33 because of the Arizona special, and this time it is the Republicans who must defend the preponderance of seats. In 2018, Democrats held 26 of the 35 seats up for election; in this cycle, Republicans must protect 22 of the 34 Senate positions.

Republicans are first risking two open seats, those of Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. At this point, both should remain in the GOP column. They also face a slew of competitive races in as many as eight incumbent states. Democrats, on the other hand, must defend in one highly competitive campaign, that of Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama, and a potentially viable contest in Minnesota.

But the most vulnerable Republican races will attract serious political attention. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), and North Carolina first term incumbent Thom Tillis are facing difficult election or re-election campaigns, in addition to Sen. Jones.

Martha McSally lost the 2018 Arizona Senate race to new Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) by 55,900 votes of more than 2.384 million ballots cast, or a margin of 2.4 percentage points. This, however, in the same election where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey scored a strong 56-42 percent re-election victory.

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