Former Governor and Brewpub Entrepreneur John Hickenlooper Launches Presidential Bid

After years of flirting with the idea of making a run at the White House, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper officially announced his bid for the presidency on Monday.

The brewing industry will recognize Hickenlooper, 67, as the former geologist turned beer entrepreneur who co-founded Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing in 1988.

He joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates hoping to challenge Republican President Donald Trump for the presidency in 2020. That list includes well-known political figures such as senators Cory Booker (New Jersey), Kamala Harris (California), Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), among others.

In a video announcing his candidacy, Hickenlooper said he’s running for president because the country “needs dreamers in Washington” who can also “get things done.”

“I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver,” he said.

The relatively unknown Hickenlooper was rumored to be considering a White House run as early as 2017, according to the New York Post, which at the time cited a source close to the Trump administration who described Hickenlooper as a “less-combative rising star.”

That same year, there were rumors of an independent, bipartisan “unity ticket” that would have included then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich as the presidential candidate and Hickenlooper as his vice president.

Indeed, Hickenlooper has built a reputation of working across party lines and avoiding mudslinging on the campaign trail. When he was vying for the Colorado governorship in 2010, Hickenlooper famously took fully clothed showers as he positioned himself as a moderate candidate who could “bring people together and cut government spending.”

“I guess I am not a very good politician because I can’t stand negative ads,” he said in the commercial.

Hickenlooper is expected to deploy a similar strategy as part of his 2020 bid, and he’s already taken more of a self-deprecating approach in an effort to gain early approval from Democratic voters.

“As a skinny kid with Coke-bottle glasses and a funny last name, I’ve stood up to my fair share of bullies,” Hickenlooper said in his first campaign video. “Standing tall when it matters is really what drives me.”

If successful, the tactic could help make Hickenlooper into more of a household name – he is currently polling less than 1 percent.

Despite being relatively unknown, Hickenlooper’s “Giddy Up” Leadership PAC had secured more than $600,000 as of December 31, 2018, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks political spending.

Notable contributors with ties to the beverages industry include Carver Brewing Company co-founder Bill Carver, Breckenridge-Wynkoop LLC CEO Lee Driscoll, and Ibotta founder Bryan Leach, among others.

Speaking to Brewbound during the 2018 Great American Beer Festival, Hickenlooper said craft breweries could be places he looked to visit along the campaign trail.

“I think it is about time that people found venues for political campaigns where young people feel welcomed and embraced and aren’t going to feel shy about expressing their views,” he said.

During recent trips to Iowa and South Carolina, Hickenlooper stopped at Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Company and River Rat Brewery.

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