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John Hickenlooper, governor-elect, prepares to pour out plans, not beer

Yesterday, John Hickenlooper returned to the Denver Press Club -- an iconic joint he first visited two decades ago, when he was thinking of writing a screenplay about Damon Runyon, a Denver Post writer who moved on to New York and gained a national reputation for his celebration of colorful characters. And Runyon would have loved the story of this unemployed geologist-turned bar owner-turned mayor, who's now Colorado's governor-elect.

Hickenlooper was at the Press Club to meet the press, giving a fast look at his transition plans -- he's been so busy interviewing potential appointees that he hasn't had a chance to read the reports compiled by the transition-team committees -- in advance of the upcoming legislative session. But before he got into the nitty-gritty of taking on a state budget that could have a billion-dollar shortfall ("The 600 pound gorilla," he said), Hickenlooper remembered another tough financial time, shortly after he'd opened the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

Turns out, Runyon wasn't the only reason he was interested in the Denver press corps. As the owner of a fledgling business, he quickly recognized that "journalists had an influence on whether I would survive or fail," Hickenlooper said.

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And so he bought them beers whenever possible.

This, he hastened to add, was before the passage of Amendment 41.

More from the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "CLEAR returns to Denver International Airport, backed by ex-cabinet official Michael Chertoff."

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