Hickenlooper announced his candidacy for the presidency today. I know he does not have much name recognition outside of Colorado and he is certainly not the kind of charismatic controversy machine that the Democratic party seems to think necessary to combat Trump in the general but for people of any party who are looking looking for competent, moderate, rational leadership - Hick is definitely worthy. For that moderate remnant of the Republican Party who supported Kasich in 2016- note that Hick and Kasich have worked and campaigned together on a number of issues - including healthcare and there remains some real talk about a dual party ticket. Hick is a sort of Democrat's Kasich.
Hickenlooper was working in Denver as a geologist researching oil shale when Black Monday and Silverado crashed Downtown Denver's economy hard. Vacancy rates in downtown skyscrapers approached 90%. Hick took his science into craft brewing, opening his first restaurant and pool hall in the heart of skid row and made it the busiest restaurant in Denver in his first year. Forming a triumvirate with a local newspaper editor and a bookstore owner, they transformed downtown in the space of years, rejuvenate hundreds of historic, abandoned buildings while leading on major projects like Coors Field, Pepsi Center, Union Station. Now that first restaurant sits at the heart of an entirely transformed city of young, wealthy techsters. He took his successful formula into restaurant consulting and led the microbrewing revolution- opening hundreds of restaurants across the west and getting very rich. If the Front Range is truly now as many call it the Napa Valley of Beer- Hick can claim more credit for that transformation than anybody else.
When he ran for Mayor, I really thought he was too soft-spoken, too detail oriented. But in terms of economic growth, Hick proved to be the most successful Mayor the city has ever seen. Then he did same as a two term Governor. He handled the three worst natural disasters to hit our state without breaking economic stride. He opposed legalization of marijuana personally but worked hard to build in build in gently regulated supply chains, price controls and tax structures that are now the envy of less forward-looking states like California.
His family is rooted in Iowa politics- a cousin was Governor and four term Senator there. He's certainly not as Green as most Democrats would like- his deepest money support comes out of his old oil industry background. He's not a Medicare for all kind of guy but he has a lot of ideas about how to bring prices down. He's believes in Capitalist solutions and has a solid track record on that front. He's a scientist and an entrepreneur and his leadership style reflects those backgrounds.
Hickenlooper was my boss for a couple of years during the early day of his first brewpub. I didn't know him well but he was a good boss- a communicator, a forward-thinker, a scientist. He created a fun, busy, laid back business and fostered deep loyalties from many passionate people.
Does he really have enough mojo to make an popular national candidate? Probably not. But for Americans who are tired of the waste and inactivity caused our present polarization, Hickenlooper is a solid centrist deal-maker that genuinely represents the kind of effective executive most Americans say they want.