Meredith C. Carroll: John Hickenlooper in wrong race, needs to challenge Cory Gardner
The New York Times has a reasonable explanation for why the field of Democratic presidential candidates is so dense. In “The Many Reasons to Run for President When You Probably Don’t Stand a Chance,” a strong case is made for being a failed White House contender, which is a title with a proven track record of yielding cabinet positions, best-selling books, cable news pundit gigs, or a cushy spot on the speaker circuit.
“Any setback (for a candidate) is temporary, any embarrassment surmountable,” the piece declared.
Yet while that may have been true when the Times article first ran in April, four months later it appears as if hanging-by-a-thread, polling-lower-than-even-Andrew Yang presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper could still manage to lose everything if he doesn’t correct the race in which he’s running. The Denver Post reported on a new poll Monday that shows he’d have a ridiculously wide lead over all other statewide Democratic senate candidates should he instead decide to try to unseat Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, in 2020. However, that news came on the heels of a Politico story hinting Hickenlooper could end up with an L on his forehead in the Colorado race in addition to the presidential contest.
“It looks like many Democrats back home in Colorado have moved on,” James Arkin wrote Aug. 8 for the Virginia-based news site. “The former two-term governor would have scared off potential rivals earlier this year, but it’s doubtful now that he could clear the field of Democratic challengers who’ve been in the trenches for months already.”
Hickenlooper’s biggest success this year has been clinging to the lowest rungs of the presidential-election ladder without getting disqualified by letting his toes brush the ground. He came close to rock bottom at a free event in Aspen over the Fourth of July holiday weekend that drew just an estimated two dozen people out of the tens of thousands who were in town. It didn’t help his stature, either, when The New York Times published a story late last month on “The Extraordinary Humbling of John Hickenlooper” that awkwardly detailed just how little enthusiasm his presidential aspirations have generated.
Even if Hickenlooper can claw his way to the debate stage in Dallas next month, his chance of currying the country’s favor over Donald Trump next year is 15,000-to-1, according to Oddsshark.com. (At least he’s faring better than soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who Vegas gives a 30,000-to-1 shot of handing Trump his walking papers.)
Sarah Palin as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate in 2012 may well have been the beginning of the end of the country holding elected leaders to the highest standards, or any standards, period. Hickenlooper was once believed to be so well-suited for the national spotlight that his name was bounced around as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. That was back when being a business-friendly moderate Democrat with compassion and a solid moral compass carried some weight though. These days, character and experience are a distant second to a pithy sound bite that can roil the Twitterverse for a single news cycle.
Meanwhile, a political action committee, Draft Hick for Senate, has started running ads urging Hickenlooper to “put service over ambition by defeating one of Trump’s biggest enablers in Cory Gardner. … More than ever, we need John’s pragmatic but progressive approach that will give Democrats the best opportunity to send Mitch McConnell to the minority.” With a four-seat Republican lead in the senate, it is believed that Colorado stands the best chance of turning its red seat blue.
Except time is now of the essence. The deadline for Democratic presidential hopefuls to meet the threshold for the third primary debate is two weeks from today. If Hickenlooper waits to get booted out of the big contest before declaring a senate candidacy, he risks being labeled a failed presidential candidate instead of a former one. If he bows out before Aug. 28, though, he can boost not only his desirability as, say, a CNN contributor, but he also has the potential to move the needle on a much bigger scale.
No one really expected Hickenlooper would make a dent in the presidential race, although he could make a meaningful impact by dropping out of it.
Follow Meredith Carroll on Twitter @MCCarroll. More at MeredithCarroll.com.
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