Personal Background:

John Hickenlooper was born February 7, 1952, in Narbeth, Pennsylvania and went on to graduate from Wesleyan University where he earned a B.A. in English and a  Masters Degree in Geology. Hickenlooper continued with a career as a geologist until he entered the business world when he co-founded the Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988. In 2003, he was elected as the 43rd mayor of Denver. Hickenlooper served two terms, resigning in 2011. As mayor, he eliminated a $70 city budget deficit.

The same day Hickenlooper resigned as mayor of Denver, he was inaugurated as governor of Colorado. During his time as the 42nd governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper was able to expand Medicaid, increased infrastructure growth, more public education spending and helped Colorado go up from being 40th in job creation. Due to a constitutional two-term limit, he was unable to run again in 2018.

John Hickenlooper became well-known as a pro-business Democrat and in 2012, he was elected to the Democratic Governors Association to serve as vice chair. Now, Hickenlooper spends his time serving on the Western Governor’s Association. He announced his Democratic candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on March 4th, 2019.

Platforms:

Hickenlooper is a moderate democrat. His views show how he moves towards the left on some issues, but is often reluctant to fully embrace some ideas. This can be seen especially with his environmental platform.

Gun Control:

Being mayor of Denver, gun control is a topic that hits home with Hickenlooper. Both the Columbine and Aurora theater shootings occurred not far from Denver. When the Aurora theater shooting first occurred in 2012, Hickenlooper dismissed claims that gun control laws would have prevented the event. He soon changed his mind, though. He signed into law a bill on universal background checks as well as one on banning high-capacity ammunition magazines while in office. Hickenlooper strives to introduce gun control policies at the federal level, including one to raise the minimum age to purchase some firearms.

Abortion:

Hickenlooper supports abortion rights for women but focuses on reducing teen pregnancies. He has also supported Planned Parenthood.

Free Trade:

The former governor of Colorado supports both the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, and the, Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP.

Environment:

Hickenlooper is a big advocate for environmental issues, exemplified by his background in geology. During his terms as governor, he added Colorado to a group of states that are focused on reducing greenhouse emissions under the U.S. Climate Alliance. He has expressed interest in the Green New Deal but has said it sets an unachievable goal, and even signed an executive order aimed at reducing emissions by 2025. Hickenlooper is a strong supporter of the oil and gas industries and has thus supported hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an act that increases forms of pollution and increases the odds of an oil spill.

In his memoir, “The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics,” Hickenlooper wrote, “Based on experience and science, I recognized that fracking was one of our very best and safest extraction techniques. Fracking is good for the country’s energy supply, our national security, our economy, and our environment.”

Employment:

One goal of Hickenlooper is to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also wants a minimum wage to correlate to the cost of living in a particular area in hopes of raising the minimum wage for those who need the money most. Hickenlooper has often spoken out about those living in poverty and housing prices.

Education:

Hickenlooper believes in educational reform to include linking teacher evaluations to standardized test results. He also supports charter schools.

LGBT+ Rights:

As an advocate for LGBT+ rights, Hickenlooper has told of how he employed a gay man at his brewery during the AIDS epidemic. In 2013, Hickenlooper signed a civil-unions bill into law.

Health Care:

While Hickenlooper does support the idea of universal healthcare, he has disagreed with other Democratic candidates, such as Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris on the issue of eliminating private insurance companies. He takes a more moderate stance on health care, but also, as mentioned earlier, expanded Medicare under the ACA while governor.

Voting Record:

Significant Signed Bills

  • 2018 – Amends Public Retirement System Policy
  • 2018 – Establishes School Grants for Suicide-Prevention Training
  • 2017 – Authorizes Transfers of Retail Marijuana to Medical Marijuana Licenses
  • 2017 – Establishes Regulations for Secured Medical Marijuana Cultivation
  • 2014 – Expands List of Tobacco Products Prohibited to Minors
  • 2013 – Prohibits a Domestic Violence Offender from Owning a Firearm
  • 2013 – Establishes Penalties for Violent Offenses Against Pregnant Women
  • 2013 – Authorizes Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
  • 2013 – Authorizes In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

Significant Vetoed Bills

  • 2018 – Authorizes Medical Marijuana Use for Autism and Acute Pain
  • 2018 – Authorizes Licensed Medical Marijuana Centers and Retail Marijuana Store to Sell Marijuana Edibles
  • 2018 – Decreases Certain Tobacco Taxes
  • 2015 – Prohibits Use of Automated Surveillance Camera Vehicle Identification Systems for Traffic Law Enforcement

Popularity/Electability:

John Hickenlooper is only polling between 0-1% due to low name recognition. He is running against other Democratic candidates who have, for the most part, shown more progressive democratic ideals. Hickenlooper has admitted that his centrist ideals will cause problems for him in getting the Democratic vote. He does, however, have an advantage in that he is known for his quirky political ads. He is also known for his bipartisanship and willingness to work across political lines.

“Government requires bringing people together and genuinely hearing their issues. It requires the establishment and strengthening of community,” said Hickenlooper.

Criticisms / Controversies:

Many people believe Hickenlooper is more right leaning than left leaning on many issues. This is the opposite of what many voters are looking for in a Democratic nominee for the 2020 election to run against Trump. He often looks for a middle ground, instead of taking a strong stance on certain issues which do not help to combat policies introduced during the Trump presidency.

Hickenlooper’s support of the oil and gas industries, including his support for fracking is hypocritical of his otherwise progressive agenda against climate change. His early record of not supporting gun regulation is also an area of concern with democratic voters and in 2018, there was an ethics complaint that claimed Hickenlooper accepted free jet rides. Five committee members of the Colorado ethics watchdog committee are investigating the jet rides.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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