John Hickenlooper Article

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John Hickenlooper
Governor John Hickenlooper 2015.jpg
42nd Governor of Colorado
In office
January 11, 2011 – January 8, 2019
Lieutenant Joe Garcia
Donna Lynne
Preceded by Bill Ritter
Succeeded by Jared Polis
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
July 13, 2014 – July 25, 2015
Preceded by Mary Fallin
Succeeded by Gary Herbert
43rd Mayor of Denver
In office
July 21, 2003 – January 11, 2011
Preceded by Wellington Webb
Succeeded by Bill Vidal
Personal details
John Wright Hickenlooper Jr.

(1952-02-07) February 7, 1952 (age 67)
Narberth, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Helen Thorpe
( m. 2002; div. 2015)

Robin Pringle ( m. 2016)
Children1 son
Education Wesleyan University ( BA, MS)

John Wright Hickenlooper Jr. [1] ( /ˈhɪkənlpər/; born February 7, 1952) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 42nd Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019. He is a member of the Democratic Party. In 2019, he announced that he is running for President of the United States in 2020. [2]

Born in Narberth, Pennsylvania, Hickenlooper is a graduate of Wesleyan University. After his career as a geologist, Hickenlooper entered a career in business and cofounded the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver. Hickenlooper was elected the 43rd mayor of Denver in 2003, serving two terms, until 2011.

After incumbent governor Bill Ritter announced that he would not seek reelection, Hickenlooper announced his intentions to run for the Democratic nomination, in January 2010. He won in an uncontested primary and faced Constitution Party candidate, former representative Tom Tancredo, and Republican businessman Dan Maes in the general election, which he won with 51% of the vote. He was re-elected to a second term in 2014, defeating Republican former U.S. representative Bob Beauprez by 49% to 46%.

Early life, education and career

Hickenlooper was born in Narberth, Pennsylvania, a middle-class area of the suburban Main Line of Philadelphia. [3] He is the son of Anne Doughten (née Morris) Kennedy and John Wright Hickenlooper. [4] [5] [6] [7] His paternal great-grandfather Andrew Hickenlooper was a Union general, and his paternal grandfather, Smith Hickenlooper, was a United States federal judge. [8] [9] Hickenlooper was raised by his mother from a young age after his father's death. A 1970 graduate of The Haverford School, an independent boys school in Haverford, Pennsylvania, he went on [10] to attend Wesleyan University, where he received a B.A. in English in 1974, and a master's degree in geology in 1980.

Hickenlooper worked as a geologist in Colorado for Buckhorn Petroleum, in the early 1980s. With the decline of the local oil industry, Hickenlooper was laid off. Instead of moving away, he decided to start the Wynkoop Brewing Company brewpub in 1988. [11] Wynkoop and a few other businesses contributed to the redevelopment of the LoDo area following the arrival of major league baseball to the neighborhood. Previously, the area was known to be dangerous; Hickenlooper is quoted as saying, "I must've had rocks in my head [when I chose that location]." When it first opened, the rent for Wynkoop's real estate was $1 per square foot per year. [12]

Mayor of Denver

Hickenlooper was elected the 43rd mayor of Denver in 2003. Hickenlooper's first tasks included handling the city's budget crisis and changing its career personnel system. His cabinet appointees were relatively young. Municipal elections in Denver are nonpartisan. Hickenlooper won re-election for the office of mayor, in May 2007, with 88% of the vote. [13] In 2005, he was named by Time as one of the top five big-city mayors in the U.S. [14]

Hickenlooper resigned as mayor at 8 am on January 11, 2011, hours before being inaugurated as Colorado's governor.

Governor of Colorado

Hickenlooper in February 2012

On January 11, 2011, Hickenlooper was sworn in as the 42nd governor of Colorado. On December 4, 2012, he was elected to serve as vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association. [15] He currently serves on the Western Governors' Association, and served as the chairman of the National Governors' Association from July 2014 to July 2015.

On August 25, 2017, it was reported that Republican Governor of Ohio John Kasich was considering the possibility of a 2020 unity ticket to run against Donald Trump with Kasich at the top and Hickenlooper as vice president. [16]

Constitutionally limited to two consecutive terms, [17] Hickenlooper could not run for governor in 2018.

Political positions

Hickenlooper during the World Economic Forum 2013


Since 2003, Hickenlooper has campaigned for increasing services to the homeless. [18] He announced a "10 Year Plan to End Homelessness" at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. [19]

Cannabis legalization

In 2000, Colorado voters passed Initiative 20, which legalized marijuana for medical use. In 2006, Denver became one of the first major U.S. cities to legalize the medical use of and decriminalize possession (of less than one ounce) of cannabis by those over age 18. Hickenlooper, then a co-owner of the Wynkoop Brewing Company, opposed the cannabis rescheduling initiative, which voters approved 53.49%–46.51%, but he did say that the vote "reflect[s] a genuine shift in people's attitudes". Under the current Denver Police interpretation of the law, supported by Hickenlooper, the initiative does not usurp the state law, the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS). In 2012, Amendment 64 was added to the Colorado constitution allowing possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for those over 21 for recreational use. Though Hickenlooper had been publicly against this policy as well, he said he would enforce the will of the people. [20]

On January 23, 2015, he said that "This was a bad idea", [21] that other governors should wait and see what the consequences will be. As Colorado's new laws have been implemented and the results become more clear, Hickenlooper has indicated that his views have evolved, stating in May 2016 that Colorado's approach to cannabis legalization is "beginning to look like it might work". [22]

Gun control

On March 20, 2013, Hickenlooper signed bills HB1224, HB1228 and HB1229. HB1224 created a limit of 15 rounds in magazines that could be bought, sold or transferred within the state. HB1229 requires background checks for any firearm transfer within the state, and HB1228 taxes firearm transfers to recover costs of the background checks from HB1229. [23] Opponents of these bills gathered enough signatures to trigger special recall elections that resulted in the recall of Democratic senate president John Morse, and Democratic senator Angela Giron. Democratic senator Evie Hudak later resigned rather than face her own recall election on this issue. [24]

Hickenlooper is a member of the gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

In 2018, Hickenlooper supported a Red Flag or Extreme Risk Protection Order bill in the legislature that would have allowed judges to temporally restrict firearm access to those who were deemed a significant risk to themselves or others. [25] The GOP-controlled State Senate never let the bill out of committee that legislative session. [26]

Capital punishment

On May 22, 2013, Hickenlooper granted an indefinite stay of execution to Nathan Dunlap, who was facing execution for the 1993 murder of four employees at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. The decision came after victims' families asked Hickenlooper to allow the execution of Dunlap to proceed as scheduled. [27] Hickenlooper stated: "It is a legitimate question whether we as a state should be taking lives." [28] In Hickenlooper’s 2016 memoir, he came out against the death penalty. He explained that his views on the death penalty changed after becoming more familiarized with the research showing bias against minorities and people with mental illnesses. [29]

Health care

In 2011, Hickenlooper signed SB11-200 which had passed through the Republican-held state house to create Colorado’s health care exchange. [30] In 2013, Hickenlooper signed SB13-200 to expand Medicaid as a part of the Affordable Care Act. [31] After these changes, Colorado’s insured rate rose to 93.5 percent. [32]

Disaster recovery

In May 2014, Hickenlooper signed legislation to provide better disaster relief to Coloradans after record-setting floods and wildfires had ravaged the state and destroyed homes, schools, roads, and watersheds. The bills distributed $5 million in grants to remove flood debris from watersheds, earmarked construction funding for flood-damaged schools and budgeted $17 million in grants for repairs to damaged wastewater and drinking water systems. [33] One of the bills called for the state to pay the property taxes of people who lost homes in Colorado floods or wildfires, which accounted for about 2500 destroyed or damaged homes.

Energy and environment

Hickenlooper’s administration created the first methane-capture regulations for oil and gas companies in the entire country. The rules prevented 95% of volatile organic compounds and methane from leaking from hydraulic fracturing wells. [34] The rules were later used as blueprints for California, Canada, and the federal government’s own new rules. [35]

After President Donald Trump announced that the United States would be leaving the Paris Climate Accord, Hickenlooper joined more than a dozen other states in sticking with the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. [36]

Economic growth

In March 2014, he signed House Bill 1241, which funds the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI). "The program has a total grant budget of $2.7 million, of which $530,000 has been awarded. Right now, seven projects are under consideration, representing $20 million in capital investment and more than 150 new jobs in rural areas." [37]

In 2016, Hickenlooper launched a program called Skillful, with the help of LinkedIn and the Markle Foundation. The program uses online tools and on-the-ground advisors to help businesses create job descriptions to tap into a wider job pool and help job seekers fill high-need jobs and connect them with job training. [38] Twenty other states are now following. In 2017, Skillful added the Governors Coaching Corps. program, a career coaching initiative operated out of workforce center, community colleges, and nonprofits, with the help of a $25.8 million grant from Microsoft. [39] In 2018, Colorado was ranked by US News as having the number one economy in the country. [40]

Political campaigns

2006 Colorado gubernatorial race

Hickenlooper was viewed as a possible contender for governor of Colorado in the November 2006 election to replace term-limited Republican governor Bill Owens. Despite a "Draft Hick" campaign, he officially announced on February 6, 2006, that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Later, he threw his support behind Democratic candidate Bill Ritter, Denver's former district attorney, who was subsequently elected. [41]

2008 Democratic National Convention

Hickenlooper speaks on the first day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Hickenlooper was an executive member of the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee and helped lead the successful campaign for Denver to host the landmark 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was also the centennial anniversary of the city's hosting of the 1908 Democratic National Convention.

In a controversial move decried by critics as breaching partisan ethics, the Hickenlooper administration arranged for the DNC host committee members, a private non-profit organization, to get untaxed fuel from Denver city-owned pumps, saving them $0.404 per gallon of fuel. [42] Once the arrangement came to light, the host committee agreed to pay taxes on the fuel already consumed, and to pay taxes on all future fuel purchases. [43] Also, Coors brewing company based in Golden, Colorado, used "waste beer" to provide the ethanol to power a fleet of FlexFuel vehicles used during the convention. [44]

2008 Senate seat appointment

According to The Denver Post, he was considered to be the frontrunner to fill the United States Senate seat to be vacated by Ken Salazar upon his expected confirmation to be Secretary of the Interior in the Obama Administration. [45] Hickenlooper had confirmed his interest in the seat. [46] However, on January 3, 2009, Gov. Bill Ritter appointed Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet to the position. [47] Bennet previously served as chief of staff to Mayor Hickenlooper.

2010 Colorado gubernatorial race

After Ritter announced on January 6, 2010, that he would step down at the end of his term, Hickenlooper was cited as a potential candidate for governor. [48] Hickenlooper stated that if Secretary Salazar mounted a bid for governor, he would likely not challenge him in a Democratic primary. [49] On January 7, 2010, Salazar confirmed that he would not be running for governor in 2010 and endorsed Hickenlooper for the position. [50] On January 12, 2010, media outlets reported that Hickenlooper would begin a campaign for Colorado governor. [51] On August 5, 2010, Hickenlooper selected CSU-Pueblo president Joseph A. Garcia as his running mate. [52] In the general election, Hickenlooper was elected with 51% of the vote, ahead of former congressman Tom Tancredo, running on the American Constitution Party ticket, who finished with 36.4% of the vote. [53]

2014 Colorado gubernatorial race

Hickenlooper won a tightly contested gubernatorial election by winning a plurality of 49.0% of the vote against Republican businessman Bob Beauprez. [54]

2018 GiddyUp PAC

In September 2018, term-limited Hickenlooper created the GiddyUp PAC to become more involved in national politics.

Logo for Hickenlooper’s presidential campaign.

2020 presidential campaign

On March 4, 2019, Hickenlooper announced his campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020.

Personal life

Hickenlooper married Robin Pringle on January 16, 2016. [55] His first wife, Helen Thorpe, is a writer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, George, and Texas Monthly. In 2010, Hickenlooper told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he and Thorpe attended Quaker meetings and tried to live by Quaker values. [56] Prior to the separation, they lived in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood with their son, Teddy. [57] Upon taking office as governor, Hickenlooper and his family decided to maintain their private residence instead of moving to the Colorado Governor's Mansion. [58] On July 31, 2012, Hickenlooper announced that he and Thorpe were separating after 10 years of marriage. [59] Following his divorce, Hickenlooper moved into the Governor's Mansion.

A cousin, George Hickenlooper, who died in late 2010, was an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. [60] He is the great-grandson of Civil War general Andrew Hickenlooper and the grandson of Federal Judge Smith Hickenlooper.

Other relatives include pianist Olga Samaroff (née Lucy Mary Olga Agnes Hickenlooper), who was the first wife of conductor Leopold Stokowski; and Bourke Hickenlooper, who served as governor of Iowa and a U.S. senator from Iowa. [61]

Hickenlooper is an avid squash player and continues to compete as a ranked player in national tournaments.

In popular culture

  • Hickenlooper appears in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Timequake. [62]
  • In November 2012, Esquire interviewed Hickenlooper as one of the "Americans of the Year 2012". [63]
  • Hickenlooper made a cameo appearance in his cousin George Hickenlooper's 2010 film Casino Jack. [64]

Electoral history

Colorado gubernatorial election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic John Hickenlooper 915,436 51.05
Constitution Tom Tancredo 652,376 36.38
Republican Dan Maes 199,792 11.14
Colorado gubernatorial election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic John Hickenlooper 1,006,433 49.30
Republican Bob Beauprez 938,195 45.95


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  2. ^ Dan Merica and Scott McLean, CNN, March 4, 2019, Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announces 2020 presidential campaign, Retrieved March 4, 2019
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Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Wellington Webb
Mayor of Denver
Succeeded by
Bill Vidal
Preceded by
Bill Ritter
Governor of Colorado
Succeeded by
Jared Polis
Preceded by
Mary Fallin
Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Gary Herbert
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Ritter
Democratic nominee for Governor of Colorado
2010, 2014
Succeeded by
Jared Polis