Six female Democratic candidates in Colorado vying for the chance to challenge vulnerable U.S. Senator Cory Gardner in 2020 have sent a letter to the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asking that the group withdraw its endorsement of ex-governor John Hickenlooper, whose entry into the race after pulling the plug on his dying presidential bid instantly made him the contest's Big Kahuna. But the DSCC promptly rejected this entreaty.
In a statement provided to Westword, DSCC spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua wrote, "John Hickenlooper is far and away the strongest candidate to beat Cory Gardner, and we’re proud to support him in his run for Senate."
Despite this turn of events, the aforementioned letter remains a fascinating document that underscores the discomfort with Hick that numerous hopefuls voiced in the immediate wake of his announcement for U.S. Senate on August 15. The most forceful among them was state senator Angela Williams, who told us that if Hickenlooper "thinks there's going to be a coronation, there's not."
Of course, Hickenlooper is the best known of the Dems jonesing at the prospect of taking on Gardner, with one poll showing him holding a 51 percent lead over the rest of the field. Moreover, the state's Democratic establishment appears to be quickly lining up behind him, as epitomized by former senator Ken Salazar's blessing, passed along August 26.
"I’m proud to endorse Governor Hickenlooper," Salazar said in a statement. "He has the skills to change Washington and get things done for Coloradans. He also has the best chance of defeating Cory Gardner. As someone who has had the honor of serving Colorado in the U.S. Senate, I know we need an independent voice to cut through the gridlock and stand up for our state, not a yes-man to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump."
At the same time, plenty of political insiders believe that after the blue wave that swept Colorado in 2018, any Democrat can top Gardner, and should a woman do so, she would be the first to be elected to the U.S. Senate in the state's history.
This point is among many in the lead paragraph to the letter, issued under the signatures of Williams, former speaker of the Colorado House Alice Madden, activist Lorena Garcia, pastor Stephany Rose Spaulding, Dr. Diana Bray and Michelle Ferrigno Warren, MPA.
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An excerpt reads: "All of us, like many women in Colorado and across the country, have seen well-qualified women passed over for male candidates in the workplace time and again. Those of us who have run for office before have been told to 'wait our turn' and 'don’t rock the boat' more times than we care to mention. Now, the DSCC, by its endorsement, is implying that we should defer to a male candidate because you seem to believe he is 'more electable.' Colorado has never had a woman United States Senator, and one has to wonder if circumstances such as this have contributed to that unfortunate outcome."
The Hickenlooper campaign offered the following take on the situation from spokesperson Jacque Montgomery: "This is a talented field of candidates, who will all have the opportunity to make their case and voters will make this decision. John will be working hard to earn the vote of every Coloradan."
Click to read the candidates' letter to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
This post has been updated to include a comment from the campaign of ex-governor John Hickenlooper.