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.
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.
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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."