Former two-term Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who recently announced the end of his long-shot bid for the White House, has decided to enter Colorado’s Senate Democratic primary, targeting first-term GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in the 2020 general election, according to a report.
The Denver Post cited unnamed sources late Wednesday who were familiar with the governor’s decision. Democrats are fighting to regain the majority in the Senate, which the GOP currently controls 53-47. Hickenlooper has not officially confirmed his decision to run but said he intended to “give the idea some serious thought” in released video announcing the end of his presidential campaign.
"People want to know what comes next for me. I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate," Hickenlooper said in his video last week, addressing the speculation. "They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state."
The former governor faced growing pressure from national Dems to jump into the crowded Senate primary within his state to challenge a supposedly vulnerable Sen. Gardner in the main race.
Gardner served as a congressman before switching chambers and only narrowly defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in 2014 during a wave election year for Republicans.
A Democratic source familiar with Hickenlooper’s recent conversations with Senate Democratic leadership regarding a potential Senate run told Fox News earlier last week that “the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wants him to drop [his White House bid] and they want this recruit really badly.”
The source, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely, said that at a meeting in New York City earlier this month between Hickenlooper and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the chamber, “Schumer made the point that if the governor were to run for the Senate, he would be a total hero. ... The governor could be the firewall between Mitch McConnell remaining as Senate majority leader and the Democrats taking back the Senate.”
A separate source, close to Hickenlooper’s inner circle, told Fox News that “everyone has come to him and said, ‘We need you, we need you, we need you,’ and I think the message of ‘You need to do this for the sake of the country’ resonates with him.”
Hickenlooper, who announced his presidential candidacy in March, focused his White House bid on his record as a governor who accomplished results by working with all sides, but who also pushed back against the leftward drift of the Democratic Party.
At last month’s second round of Democratic presidential nomination debates, he repeatedly took aim at rivals Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the party’s progressive standard-bearers and biggest advocates of a government-run Medicare-for-all system that would eliminate private insurance.
He announced the end of his campaign six months later after a lackluster second quarter of fundraising brought in just $1 million during the April-June period.
There also was virtually no chance Hickenlooper would reach the two Democratic National Committee thresholds – campaign contributions from 130,000 individual donors and at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls – to make the stage at the next two debates, which will be held next month and in October.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Faith Mangan contributed to this report.