FOX 31′s Eli Stokols reports obligatively:
Hickenlooper, when asked the 2016 question, has always dismissed the rumor that he might seek the Democratic presidential nomination; and, last week in his State of the State address, he playfully acknowledged that he’s confident about and focused on reelection, noting that he considers the mid-way point of his first term “the quarter point” of his administration.
But make no mistake: Hickenlooper is increasingly well-positioned for a presidential run in 2016 or, perhaps more realistically, in 2020.
In this month’s issue of 5280 magazine, Hickenlooper’s chief strategist, Alan Salazar, became the first member of the governor’s inner circle to openly express excitement about the prospect of a future presidential run.
The magazine’s editor at large, Maximillian Potter, asked, “Will we ever see a President Hickenlooper?”
Salazar’s stunningly candid response: “I hope so.”
Speculation about a possible presidential bid for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, most recently stoked by a story in Politico that referred to him as a potential 2016 candidate, is primarily based in his overwhelmingly favorable approval ratings here in Colorado–persistently among the highest for any governor in America. That favorability, however, is based more on Hickenlooper’s perceived personal affability among voters than actual policy achievements as Governor. That’s a subtle but important difference.
The fact is that Hickenlooper’s relations with the Democratic base, particularly conservation-minded liberals, are more than a bit strained after his repeated statements, some bordering on gaffes, in favor of the industry. We do expect Hickenlooper to pick up support on the left after the legislature passes such high-profile bills as civil unions and the ASSET undocumented student tuition bill this year. Larger solutions to long-term fiscal problems the state faces are not yet in place, awaiting the next step in Hickenlooper’s ironically-named “TBD” initiative.
In short, Hickenlooper’s viability for high national office remains theoretical at best. We haven’t heard anything since the initial rumor about a possible Commerce Secretary appointment, but that remains one of a number of possbilities.
If Hickenlooper is serious about the “slow rollout” of his national aspirations described in Stokols’ piece today, and he wants to use his record as governor as part of that, he’ll need to turn issues like oil and gas drilling, and the state’s “TBD” fiscal outlook, into past-tense accomplishments.