John Colson: Will 2020 be our Hick & Andy Show? Romanoff, Hickenlooper could be top 2 standing |

John Colson: Will 2020 be our Hick & Andy Show? Romanoff, Hickenlooper could be top 2 standing

John Colson
Hit & Run

And the race goes on in Colorado, as various Democrats take aim at Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and urge voters to help “flip the Senate” in to Democrats’ hands by kicking Gardner out of office after a single term.

I could not agree more heartily, though I have some quibbles with how the race is shaping up.

For one thing, failed presidential contender John Hickenlooper — a petroleum engineer by training who switched paths to become founder of a beer-brewing dynasty and later mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado — appears to have been anointed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

This, despite the fact that Hick (as he is known by his constituents) reportedly said at a campaign rally last February in Iowa, “I’m not cut out to be a senator.”

I guess that Hick, after learning that voters think he’s not cut out to be a president, either, decided that taking on Gardner would be easier than trying to wade through the 2020 field of his party’s presidential hopefuls.

And he’s right — Gardner is viewed as the most endangered senator up for election next year, and his unqualified and steadfast (though idiotic) support for President Donald Trump probably has not done Gardner any good in a state that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

As noted by a news website, The Intercept, Colorado’s electorate has been leaning increasingly toward the progressive side of things in recent years, and Hick’s success at holding onto the governor’s mansion has happened despite his very moderate political profile and his unacceptably cozy relations with the state’s oil and gas industry.

Hick was lucky he was term-limited out of office last year, in fact, given that his nickname around the state has been “Frackenlooper” for some time, and he has increasingly been at odds with the burgeoning progressive wing of his own party for some time.

Had term limits not called a halt to his governorship, it’s entirely possible that Hick would have been beaten at the polls in last year’s election, which brought the much more progressive Gov. Jared Polis into office.

But that, as they say, is then. Let’s stick with now.

And “now” would seem to pit Hick mainly against former Colorado State Rep. Andrew Romanoff, who recently appeared in the town Carbondale (where I live) to very positive reviews.

Of course, there are other Democrats hoping to win the state’s primary and face Gardner in the general election in 2020, including Dan Baer, an Obama-era diplomat and former executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education; Mike Johnston, a former state senator and education adviser to President Barack Obama; Alice Madden, a former Colorado House majority leader: John Walsh, a former U.S. attorney for Colorado; and current State Sen. Angela Williams of Denver, among others.

But today we’ll stick to Romanoff, a four-term state representative whose first name actually is Harlan, as possibly the candidate mostly likely to come out on top in both the primary and the general election.

For one thing, Romanoff, like Hick, has high name recognition around the state from his service in the state house and from prior political campaigns (he lost to incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010, and to incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in 2014, both of them hard-fought contests).

He holds a law degree, has taught government courses at several colleges around the state, and is the son of a split-politics family — his dad was a Republican prosecutor, his mom a Democrat social worker.

Most recently, Romanoff was CEO of a mental-health advocacy agency in Colorado, a job he left this year when he declared his candidacy for Gardner’s post in February.

There’s much more to Romanoff’s bio, but interested readers can find out more on their own than I can possibly list in this column.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been following Romanoff for some time, and while I cannot say I have always agreed with him (a very high bar, indeed) I generally have appreciated his presence, his outlook and his vision in his previous political campaigns.

As was the case with former presidential hopeful Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, Romanoff lists his top priority as coming up with ways to address climate change, which his website refers to as a “climate crisis … that poses an enormous threat to life on Earth.”

Other priorities, as listed on his website, include a goal to “ensure health care for all, … champion public education, prevent gun violence, … repair our democracy (and) support our seniors,” among others.

According to a poll by the Keating Research group in July, Romanoff was leading the pack of Gardner’s challengers, although Hick’s entry into the race reportedly has upset that balance by putting Hick at the top of the primary heap.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months, and whether Romanoff’s more confrontational tactics will resonate more with voters than Hick’s laid-back style.

Stay tuned, pay attention and above all, don’t panic.

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