Behind-the-Scenes: Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech

Executive editor Maximillian Potter spent a year embedded with Governor Hickenlooper’s team. Here, behind-the-scenes images as they prepared for the annual State of the State speech.

July 25 2012, 10:23 AM

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Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Chief of staff, Roxane White, wanted to make sure adequate time was left before the speech for the governor to rehearse. Budget director Henry Sobanet, a Republican, who, it seemed, could recall every nickel of the nearly $20 billion state budget, was especially helpful when it came to questions of phrasing such as, "Can we say every state agency or almost every state agency?" Both White and Sobanet ensured the governor stayed away from jokes that might offend Republicans. By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Hickenlooper inspects ties before the big speech.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The First Lady and governor in a quiet moment.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The governor began rehearsing near the middle of three days of speechwriting. He audibly changed words and tweaked phrasing as he went along, with staff taking notes on his improptu edits. The pitcher and glasses frosted with the logo of his old bar and restaurant, Wynkoop Brewing Company, held water and memories of Hickenlooper's former life.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: "Hi Helen," the Governor said when his wife entered the room. "Hi, Babe," she said, took her seat, and, shortly thereafter, killed a bug. "Least I'm good for something," she joked. In truth, the First Lady spoke infrequently, but when she did, Thorpe—an author and journalist—successfully and quietly advocated for cutting words (and then cutting some more) and focused on word choice. "I'm just wondering about the word, anxious," she said. "How about eager?" By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Alan Salazar, the governor's chief adviser on policy and communicatons, and his chief speech writer, waits anxiously as the governor checks his Blackberry before heading out to deliver the State of the State.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Alan Salazar, the governor's chief strategy officer and director of the office of policy and research, was the one who first put civil unions on the agenda to be included in the State of the State. While the governor was out of the room, Salazar said to Chief of Staff Roxane White: "I think it's one of those very bold things, and we're accused of not being bold. Just a thought. The press cynicism is he's too cautious, he's not going to take a firm stand." White agreed: "We have at least one place where we don't protect the last and the least.... And we should fix it, damn it! But not written like that. Either we stand for civil rights or we don't." By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The middle of a long day of speechwriting: (left to right) budget director Henry Sobanet; director of legislative affairs and strategic initiatives Christine Scanlan; First Lady Helen Thorpe receiving a note from her aide; and director of government and community affairs RD Sewald.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The most frequently asked question at the table during the writing of the State of the State was: "Rox, What do you think?" It was chief of staff Roxane White, who ultimately found the phrasing to advocate legalizing civil unions, which would put the administration into a special session standoff with the Republican leader of the State House, Frank McNulty.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: During the days of speech writing, there were times of frustration when the staff and governor would stress over word choice. "There's a sentence that we're missing," Hickenlooper said as he leaned back and groaned. "One sentence is going to make this really good." Saracastically, communications director Eric Brown suggested: "How about good government is critical."  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Governor Hickenlooper very much wanted to begin his 2012 State of the State speech with a story about entrepreneurship. He ended up telling the true tale of John Stetson, who inveted the Stetson hat in Colorado. Throughout the more than three days his team spent together in his office crafting the speech, this Stetson was always nearby.   By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Governor John Hickenlooper and the Stetson hat as he wraps up the first rodeo of his first year as governor.   By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Chief of staff, Roxane White, wanted to make sure adequate time was left before the speech for the governor to rehearse. Budget director Henry Sobanet, a Republican, who, it seemed, could recall every nickel of the nearly $20 billion state budget, was especially helpful when it came to questions of phrasing such as, "Can we say every state agency or almost every state agency?" Both White and Sobanet ensured the governor stayed away from jokes that might offend Republicans. By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Hickenlooper inspects ties before the big speech.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The First Lady and governor in a quiet moment.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The governor began rehearsing near the middle of three days of speechwriting. He audibly changed words and tweaked phrasing as he went along, with staff taking notes on his improptu edits. The pitcher and glasses frosted with the logo of his old bar and restaurant, Wynkoop Brewing Company, held water and memories of Hickenlooper's former life.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: "Hi Helen," the Governor said when his wife entered the room. "Hi, Babe," she said, took her seat, and, shortly thereafter, killed a bug. "Least I'm good for something," she joked. In truth, the First Lady spoke infrequently, but when she did, Thorpe—an author and journalist—successfully and quietly advocated for cutting words (and then cutting some more) and focused on word choice. "I'm just wondering about the word, anxious," she said. "How about eager?" By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Alan Salazar, the governor's chief adviser on policy and communicatons, and his chief speech writer, waits anxiously as the governor checks his Blackberry before heading out to deliver the State of the State.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Alan Salazar, the governor's chief strategy officer and director of the office of policy and research, was the one who first put civil unions on the agenda to be included in the State of the State. While the governor was out of the room, Salazar said to Chief of Staff Roxane White: "I think it's one of those very bold things, and we're accused of not being bold. Just a thought. The press cynicism is he's too cautious, he's not going to take a firm stand." White agreed: "We have at least one place where we don't protect the last and the least.... And we should fix it, damn it! But not written like that. Either we stand for civil rights or we don't." By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The middle of a long day of speechwriting: (left to right) budget director Henry Sobanet; director of legislative affairs and strategic initiatives Christine Scanlan; First Lady Helen Thorpe receiving a note from her aide; and director of government and community affairs RD Sewald.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: The most frequently asked question at the table during the writing of the State of the State was: "Rox, What do you think?" It was chief of staff Roxane White, who ultimately found the phrasing to advocate legalizing civil unions, which would put the administration into a special session standoff with the Republican leader of the State House, Frank McNulty.  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: During the days of speech writing, there were times of frustration when the staff and governor would stress over word choice. "There's a sentence that we're missing," Hickenlooper said as he leaned back and groaned. "One sentence is going to make this really good." Saracastically, communications director Eric Brown suggested: "How about good government is critical."  By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Governor Hickenlooper very much wanted to begin his 2012 State of the State speech with a story about entrepreneurship. He ended up telling the true tale of John Stetson, who inveted the Stetson hat in Colorado. Throughout the more than three days his team spent together in his office crafting the speech, this Stetson was always nearby.   By Maximillian Potter

Governor Hickenlooper Preps for the State of the State Speech: Governor John Hickenlooper and the Stetson hat as he wraps up the first rodeo of his first year as governor.   By Maximillian Potter