August 30, 2011

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Colorado, Latest News

2016? Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in the mix

BY REID J. EPSTEIN  |  POLITICO  |  LINK TO ARTICLE

Denver – A popular Democratic swing-state governor who brags unprompted about annoying a key liberal constituency and has a background as a small business owner might have a run for national office in his future.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who founded a brewpub and was twice elected Denver’s mayor, cruised to victory in 2010 in a three-way race against a fractured state Republican Party. He registered a 54 percent approval rating in a Public Policy Polling survey earlier this month, a whopping 30 percentage points higher than his 24 percent disapproval.

“I would say that nothing John Hickenlooper does or how high he climbs surprises me,” said Denver political consultant Eric Sondermann. “He’s really someone who has always looked at one league up. … As governor, I think he is thinking, ‘I’m good enough to play in that league.'”

And Hickenlooper, while disavowing national ambitions as all potential candidates do this early in the 2016 cycle, speaks the language of a Democrat laying a long-term path toward a national political profile.

“You never say never, but it’s hard to imagine,” Hickenlooper told POLITICO in an interview in his state Capitol office here. “What we’re trying to do here necessarily, I think, is going to irritate and I think in some ways divide some of the strongest constituencies that are going to be making those decisions.”

Hickenlooper’s best path to national office in 2016 would come in a Democratic Party looking for a centrist leader in the mold of President Bill Clinton, said University of Wisconsin political science professor Charles Franklin.

“Under many circumstances, Hickenlooper would represent a Democrat with crossover appeal who can win in swing states,” Franklin said.

Hickenlooper described his platform in Colorado as one that can be emulated nationwide.

“In terms of all kinds of things, in terms of educational reform, in terms of health care, transportation, Colorado has a chance to be a national model,” he said. “But the moment a governor in a state starts thinking in terms of what their political prospects would look like for some national office, the moment you do that you lose your ability to do stuff you really want to get done.”

Read more in Politico.