Eight years ago, John Hickenlooper was barely a blip in early polling for the 2003 mayoral election.
Four years ago, he won re-election in a walk.
This morning, he'll resign the office of Denver mayor -- and the happiest people in town will be the dozen candidates who've already declared they want that spot.
Because if Hickenlooper weren't ascending from the Denver City & County Building today to the State Capitol, he might very well have settled in for a third term as Denver's mayor: The note "Reelect Hickenlooper for Mayor in 2011" is still at the bottom of hickenlooperformayor.com. And that would have meant all of the politicians eager for a shot at City Hall would have had to cool their heels for another four years.
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But instead, Governor (for a few more hours) Bill Ritter decided not to go for a second term, clearing the way for a gubernatorial run by Hickenlooper -- and for all the other pols who'd like to follow in Hick's footprints... to the mayor's office, at least.
When the cannons sound this morning, they will signal the beginning of the Hickenlooper administration -- but also the real start of the mayoral race.
And they're off.
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "John Hickenlooper for president? First, he has to get to the State Capitol."