What Does John Hickenlooper Think of Rural Colorado?

October 2010

Back in 2009, journalist Eden Lane asked Denver Democratic Mayor John Hickenlooper what he thought about the Matthew Shepard Foundation selecting Denver as its home base even though the gay college student was murdered in Wyoming. "Colorado and Wyoming are very similar," he replied. "We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico" (via National Review).

Tom Tancredo, who is running on the American Constitution Party ticket against Hickenlooper in the race for Colorado governor, has now revived the remarks, accusing Hickenlooper of insulting some Coloradans. "To suggest that people in rural Colorado are 'backwards' because they don't share your left-wing values reinforces once again just how out of touch you are," Tancredo claims (via The Denver Post). "Mr. Mayor, you owe the people of rural Colorado an apology."

A spokesman for Hickenlooper, George Merritt, explains that Hickenlooper was "making the point that the kind of intolerance that led to Matthew Shepard's murder is not unique to a single community in Wyoming." And while news outlets haven't yet cited any peeved rural residents, Hick made a point to address the topic during a debate in Greeley, reports The Tribune: "I was obviously mistaken. I was trying to say that it's not just Wyoming. It happens everywhere. It happens in urban areas, as well as rural areas."

Nevertheless, Hickenlooper is leading Tancredo by a strong 10 percentage points (49 percent to 39 percent) in the latest poll. Just nine percent support Republican nominee Dan Maes, two percent back some other candidate, and one percent are undecided.