Just one week ago, former Gov. John Hickenlooper suspended his lackluster presidential campaign, saying he would give “serious thought” to a potential run for U.S. Senate in 2020. It didn’t take long for him to make his decision. Late Wednesday night, Hickenlooper posted a video on his campaign website announcing he would, in fact, join the field of Democratic contenders who hope to unseat Sen. Cory Gardner.

In the video, Hickenlooper shoots pool alone and explains the various reasons he feels compelled to join the senate race: “I’m a straight shooter. I’ve always said Washington was a lousy place for people like me who want to get things done,” he says. “But this is no time to walk away from the table….I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado.”

The 11 other Democrats who have mounted primary campaigns, however, had mixed and largely unenthusiastic reactions Thursday morning when asked about the news. While some shied away from criticizing the former governor directly, others pointed out Hickenlooper said back in February that he’s “not cut out to be a senator.”

Perhaps no candidate was as dismissive as Gardner, who released the following statement via campaign manager Casey Contres: “To us, Gov. Hickenlooper is just another liberal in the clown car. Whoever their party nominates will be wildly out of step with Colorado, and we look forward to facing them in the general election.”

Here’s what the rest of the field had to say.

Editor’s Note: Statements have been edited and condensed for length and clarity. 

Dan Baer: “There are new voices ready to lead across our state and in the U.S. Senate, voices who understand that there is no back to normal, there’s only forward to normal. That’s why I was running yesterday, and that’s why I’ll be running tomorrow.”

Diana Bray: “I’m looking forward to debating him on many issues, particularly the issues that we are in disagreement about, including his fostering of the oil and gas industry and health care….I will continue to challenge him and any others who do not advocate for the citizens of Colorado. I think that it will be an interesting, robust debate—with Hickenlooper now in the race—because we have direct evidence of what he did in the position of power, and I will challenge that.”

Lorena Garcia: “John Hickenlooper has a right to run for the U.S. Senate just like anybody else. While I support his right to run, I don’t think he’s the right person to represent Colorado in the Senate. We need new people, young people, and an injection of fresh perspective into the political sphere. Currently, the Senate is entirely comprised of people over 40 years old….Colorado’s population is getting younger every day. I believe it should be represented by someone who represents this growing population.

Mike Johnston: “This time of crisis in our country demands proven leaders of courage and conviction. Mike is in this race because he has demonstrated as a teacher and principal, and in the state Senate, that he has what it takes to rise to that occasion, both to beat Cory Gardner and to be an effective senator for Colorado, who will take on Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, the NRA, and all the special interests that have motivated Cory’s time in the Senate.” (statement from campaign manager Elissa Kim) 

Alice Madden: “I welcome John to the race and look forward to hearing his ideas for legislative action. I am running to take immediate steps to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. As I travel the state, I am convinced that Coloradans crave transformative change away from Donald Trump’s divisive agenda that is taking us backwards. And I know that with strategic leadership, we can solve the climate crisis, support working families by strengthening unions, enact universal healthcare, and make meaningful investments in education so all our kids are receiving a high-quality education no matter their zip code.”

Andrew Romanoff: “The Senate race got a little bigger today, and the choice became even clearer. We deserve—and I pledge to run—a campaign grounded in public policy. I know and respect both Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper, but I disagree with them on some fundamental issues….This is no time to surrender our dreams. Let’s go fight for the world we imagine.”

John Walsh: “John Walsh has been in this race to win from the beginning. He brings unique strengths and experience to the campaign, flowing from his long record of fighting for Coloradans. John believes passionately that Cory Gardner needs to be defeated. He also has enormous respect for John Hickenlooper. Obviously, this is a different race today than it was yesterday, and John and his team are working to plan next steps for this new phase of the race.” (statement from John Walsh for Colorado)

Michelle Ferrigno Warren: “I welcome Gov. Hickenlooper to the race and respect his leadership on the Colorado stage. However, Colorado has yet to elect a woman to the U.S. Senate and Diana DeGette is the only female out of our seven representatives. It’s time for real change. I believe Colorado is ready to elect its first female U.S. senator. Additionally, as the only candidate with direct experience working with Congress for the past decade and building relationships on both sides of the aisle, I am uniquely qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate on behalf of our great state.”

Angela Williams: “Gov. Hickenlooper says he’s not done fighting, but a lot of Colorado’s working families are wondering when exactly he started to fight….[He] has failed to fight for the progressive solutions our state and country need. While Gov. Hickenlooper was in Iowa and New Hampshire, I’ve been crisscrossing the state hearing directly from Coloradans about what’s on their minds. I’m staying in this race because all of Colorado’s working families deserve a senator who will fight for them in Washington.”

Trish Zornio: “I’m disappointed to know that after years of [my own] passion and planning, a man who thinks he—by his own admission—‘isn’t cut out to be a senator’ wants any political office so badly he may run for the very one he doesn’t even want, but I do. It’s insulting….Some of us actually want to be Colorado’s U.S. senator in 2020, and some of us actually think we’d be pretty damn good at it, too.”

Stephany Rose Spaulding has no statement at this time regarding Hickenlooper’s entry into the Senate race.

Erin Skarda
Erin Skarda
Erin is a Denver-based writer and the former digital editor for 5280.
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.