John Hickenlooper Wins Colorado Senate Primary After Last-Minute Seven-Figure Spending

Posted: Jun 30, 2020 10:20 PM
John Hickenlooper Wins Colorado Senate Primary After Last-Minute Seven-Figure Spending

Source: AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file

Former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper (D) managed to clinch his party’s nomination for November’s Senate contest on Tuesday night after a blistering, expensive primary challenge. Former State Representative Andrew Romanoff gave Hickenlooper a challenge from the left and forced the former governor’s allies to bankroll a 7-figure advertising boost into his struggling campaign in the final weeks of the primary. 

The better part of Hickenlooper’s candidacy was tainted by claims of ethics violations, which Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) eventually upheld. The IEC found that the former governor violated Amendment 41 of the state’s constitution on two separate occasions in 2018, which was created to create accountability for state lawmakers. Hickenlooper avoided appearing before the IEC for weeks, and had to eventually comply with a subpoena compelling his testimony. While fighting the claims, Hickenlooper’s legal defense was funded by taxpayers, courtesy of a fund intended for economic relief following 9/11, which cost his former constituents $525 per hour. The IEC eventually fined Hickenlooper $2,750 for his violations, the largest penalty in the state’s history.

As was the case with Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s Senate primary, Hickenlooper’s candidacy was nearly guaranteed before his refusal to testify in what his campaign called a “frivolous” ethics hearing. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) took note of the former governor’s campaign’s fourth-quarter implosion, which was even dubbed a “hot mess” by a former Democratic lawmaker. 

"By selecting John Hickenlooper as their nominee, Democrats put their hopes in a ‘sh--show' campaign team and the guy who said himself he was 'not cut out to be a Senator'," said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. "Over the next few months, voters are going to learn what Hickenlooper has been hiding – about his disregard for the law, his misuse of taxpayer funds, and all the illegal gifts and travel from his corporate sugar daddies. If watching him fall apart under pressure these last few weeks is any indication, 'hot mess' Hickenlooper is in for a very bumpy ride"

Now that the former governor was able to overcome ethics violations and a progressive primary challenger, Hickenlooper will face incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in November. Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up.