Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and his wife, journalist and author Helen Thorpe, have just issued a joint statement revealing that they are separating.
The announcement notes that their parting isn't acrimonious and stresses their devotion to their young son, Teddy. Here's the statement:
After years of marriage that have added tremendous love and depth to both of our lives, we have decided to separate. This decision is mutual and amicable. We continue to have the utmost respect for each other, and we remain close friends. We intend to continue functioning as a family that spends a great deal of time together. In fact, we will embark on our annual family vacation together this week, share meals often, and plan to spend holidays together. You can continue to expect to see both of us out in the community -- sometimes together, sometimes solo. Please feel free to include both of us in social gatherings as we will not find it awkward.
Our chief concern right now is the well-being of our son, so we ask everyone to respect our privacy as we make this transition. While public office made this announcement necessary, it will be the only statement we make on this private matter. We want to thank our friends, family, and community for all of the support you have shown us as a couple and as individuals, and for the support we know you will provide as we move forward.
The release, issued by the governor's office, adds the following, addressing in a straight-forward manner the most inevitable questions:
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Both the Governor and Ms. Thorpe want the public to know that neither has had an affair, that they did seek extended counseling, and that this decision is unrelated to the difficult events Colorado has faced this summer. While the Governor will be moving into the Governor's Mansion, he will also continue to spend time with his son at their private home.
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These attempts to squelch speculation about the causes of the separation are smart, but they're also unlikely to succeed -- at least not entirely. Neither will they mute those who'll wonder in front of microphones and behind the scenes about the possible impact on Hickenlooper should he harbor aspirations toward higher office. Recall that before former Colorado Governor Bill Owens split with from his wife, Frances, he had been frequently mentioned as a national candidate -- but those prospects quickly dimmed amid whispers about affairs and a child born out of wedlock, even though none of this gossip has been confirmed or proven to this day.
Though the announcement is deeply personal, it will undoubtedly start plenty of political conversations. Let them begin.