John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff have come to the Democratic Party primary contest for the U.S. Senate by different routes. Hickenlooper led the development of craft beer in Denver, became its mayor and then the state’s governor. Romanoff has had an affinity for civil rights and righting the human condition, and served eight years in the state House, two as speaker. Since then, he founded a mental health organization and a center for international development.
Both as mayor and as governor, Hickenlooper was mostly bipartisan. His roots in the business community and his middle-of-the-road positions on some issues appealed to Republicans.
Light rail for mass transit and quality of life improvements came to Denver, while jobs and economic growth occurred in the more populated cities. Colorado was viewed as the place to be, and its economy became one of the top four or five. Respecting the significant jobs and tax revenues that come from extraction industries, Hickenlooper forced negotiations that resulted in the most stringent environmental regulations instead of forcing the industry to eliminate fracking.
He also advocated for, and signed, modest gun safety legislation.
Hickenlooper, 68, easily wears blue jeans and open shirts and enjoys being self-deprecating. A few years ago in a commencement address, he told Fort Lewis College students he really should not be in front of them, that he’d lost his first job as a geologist, his light dyslexia made him a slow reader and added to an attention deficit disorder, and that it had taken him eight or nine years to receive a degree. And, his mother, when he asked her for a loan to boost the brewery company, said no, his idea of adding food to the bar would not work.
Drinking fracking fluid, and from the Animas River shortly after the Gold King Mine spill, were done with only brief hesitations.
Colorado has a tough ethics law, and Hickenlooper has been cited by the state’s ethics commission for taking a seat on a corporate jet and in a limousine overseas. Probably the wrong thing to do, but that has not been Hickenlooper’s lifestyle.
Romanoff, 53, worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination before becoming a member of Colorado’s state House. He was a natural leader in that environment when the Democrats acquired the majority.
Romanoff has wanted to go to Washington. He lost to Michael Bennet in the primary for U.S. Senate in 2010 and to Mike Coffman in the general election in 2014 for a U.S. House seat.
He has a master’s in public policy from Harvard and a law degree from The University of Denver.
In his campaign, Romanoff argues for bold change in Washington; Hickenlooper tilts toward bipartisanship.
The Herald’s editorial board favors John Hickenlooper in the primary. His experience in business and proven bipartisanship as governor matches Colorado’s ideological mix. Romanoff has much to offer, but he stands further to the left on issues than is best at this time. We want a Senate that returns to getting things done, not one that continues to dig in. Hickenlooper is more likely to play that role.