Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has won the job he said repeatedly that he never wanted: U.S. senator.
Hickenlooper defeated Republican Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), an outcome long projected given Gardner’s vulnerability in a state that has been trending blue for several cycles.
“Tonight, your message is loud and clear—it's time to put the poisonous politics of this era behind us, and come together to move forward,” he said in a video address following his win late Tuesday. The high voter turnout, he said, proves “it’s time for a different approach, it’s time to start solving problems and helping people, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
Hickenlooper started out the 2020 cycle with his sights on a much bigger electoral prize, launching a bid for the White House in March 2019. But his candidacy never made it out of more than a rounding error in national polls.
Even as his presidential campaign failed to launch, Hickenlooper insisted he was not “cut out” for the Senate, saying in May 2019, “It’s awful hard to imagine that I could be successful in a Senate campaign or as a senator.”
And yet, days after dropping out of the presidential race on Aug. 15, Hickenlooper announced his bid for Senate.
While Gardner attempted to portray himself as an independent voice in the Senate on matters such as immigration, he was never about to escape the undertow of President Trump’s unpopularity in a state where former Vice President Joe Biden consistently polled double digits over the president.
Hickenlooper, the folksy former brewpub owner and two term governor of the state, also benefited from the waterfall of cash that washed over many Democratic challengers in the 2020 cycle, outraising Gardner $36.8 million to $25.3 million, respectively.