John Hickenlooper
John Hickenlooper's campaign for president has officially ended (Photo: Gage Skidmore, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

On August 14th, FiveThirtyEight’s week­ly pol­i­tics chat dis­cussed the like­li­hood of strug­gling Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates drop­ping out of the race in the near future. Colorado’s John Hick­en­loop­er, the for­mer gov­er­nor of the Cen­ten­ni­al State, was the first name to be brought up (by elec­tions ana­lyst Geof­frey Skelley).

John Hickenlooper
John Hick­en­loop­er’s cam­paign for pres­i­dent has offi­cial­ly end­ed (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Less than twen­ty four hours lat­er, the pre­dic­tion came true; Hick­en­loop­er declared via tweet that he was end­ing his cam­paign for president.

Hickenlooper’s with­draw­al is hard­ly a surprise.

At the start of July, sto­ries start­ed com­ing out of his cam­paign was seri­ous­ly strug­gling: he had lost key staff mem­bers (includ­ing his cam­paign man­ag­er, com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, dig­i­tal direc­tor and finance direc­tor); fundrais­ing was so lack­lus­ter that the cam­paign risked run­ning out of cash entire­ly by the end of August; his staff were prac­ti­cal­ly beg­ging him to con­sid­er oth­er options.

The Hick­en­loop­er campaign’s inter­nal strug­gles were only a sign of his over­all efforts; he was get­ting nowhere in his bid for the White House. Hick­en­loop­er was unlike­ly to even make it into the third round of Demo­c­ra­t­ic debates – he only qual­i­fied in one or four required polls, and he only had 13,000 indi­vid­ual donors (10% of the num­ber required to get to the stage in September).

Aside from his trou­bled orga­ni­za­tion, Hick­en­loop­er was unin­spir­ing as a can­di­date. He posi­tioned him­self as a “prag­mat­ic” alter­na­tive to pro­gres­sive can­di­dates like Sen­a­tors Eliz­a­beth War­ren and Bernie Sanders, but in the July debate against those two he seemed unpre­pared, trip­ping over his words, and at one point – seem­ing to lack a plan on immi­gra­tion – asked, “How hard can it be?”

Off the debate stage, he didn’t endear him­self to Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists.

In May, he earned the ire of pro­gres­sives by com­par­ing the left­ward turn in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics to, “the dis­cred­it­ed ideas of Karl Marx and Josef Stal­in.”

At the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ven­tion in June, he returned to his old tac­tic of attack­ing social­ism, but was booed by the crowd.

There were plen­ty of fac­tors that nudged Hick­en­loop­er out of the race, but there was also an entic­ing pull; he now has the chance to run for the Sen­ate in Colorado.

Not only that, but he has a good chance of win­ning; one poll shows that he cur­rent­ly leads Repub­li­can incum­bent Cory Gard­ner 51% to 38%. In 2020, every Sen­ate seat will count for the Democ­rats, as the Par­ty has only nar­row mar­gins to win a major­i­ty there, even if their can­di­date is elect­ed to the White House.

Hickenlooper’s allies and sup­port­ers have been encour­ag­ing him to “drop out grace­ful­ly” from his quixot­ic pres­i­den­tial bid and run for Sen­ate for months now, from both out­side and with­in the cam­paign team. The first sign that he was con­sid­er­ing such a move came a cou­ple of weeks before his with­draw­al, when a com­pa­ny linked to Hick­en­loop­er reg­is­tered the web domain, “”

John Hick­en­loop­er will not be much of a loss to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial field. Aside from his own inad­e­qua­cies as a can­di­date, there is just not enough space for a can­di­date like him in a field that includes Joe Biden, and in a par­ty that is grav­i­tat­ing towards can­di­dates who are tru­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of its increas­ing­ly younger, more eth­ni­cal­ly diverse, and pro­gres­sive base.

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