Say goodbye to Mayor Hick and hello to Governor John Hickenlooper -- he hopes

He didn't ride up on a scooter and he didn't sky dive out of an airplane. He wasn't wearing his pajamas or a crazy green bow tie or even a cowboy hat.

Mayor John Hickenlooper had declared Tuesday "Dress Western Day" in honor of the National Western Stock Show. But for him, it was Dress Like a Governor Day.

"My name is John Hickenlooper and I want to be the next governor of Colorado," the mayor, garbed in a suit, red and blue striped tie and overcoat, told a crowd of several hundred people Tuesday afternoon on the steps of the state Capitol Building, ending days of speculation about his intentions.

Hickenlooper became the de facto front runner for the Democratic nomination last Thursday when former senator Ken Salazar announced that he would stay on the job as U.S. Secretary of Interior rather than pursue the office being vacated by Governor Bill Ritter.

But the speech was a serious one, speckled with stories about his getting laid off from his job as a geologist in the 1980s, about the formation of the Wynkoop Brewing Company and about how he has created hundreds of jobs as a businessman over the years.

In fact, job creation, Hickenlooper said, will be his number one priority if he is elected.

That is certainly a message that will fly outside of Denver, where people may not be familiar with the mayor's goofy antics, goofier clothes and occasionally irreverent quips -- attributes that might not appeal to voters in Colorado Springs or Alamosa, Fort Collins or Grand Junction, Pueblo, Greeley or Lamar.

"I don't plan on compromising my independent streak," Hickenlooper said after his announcement. But he also guaranteed that he'd never again jump out of an airplane as he did for a 2005 commercial -- although stunts like that will certainly give Republican challenger Scott McInnis and state party chairman Dick Wadhams plenty to work with.

So, say goodbye to Mayor Hick, Denver's somewhat hokey geologist-turned-brewpub owner-turned Mayor and hello to John Hickenlooper, buttoned-up candidate for governor.

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