Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper may be the first Democrat to officially exit the race for the 2020 presidential nomination.
Senior staffers are reportedly urging Hickenlooper, who never climbed above 1% in the polls and barely eeked his way into the first set of Democratic presidential debates, to withdraw from the 2020 presidential race completely and return to private life in Colorado, according to Politico.
The Hickenlooper campaign is in “shambles,” Politico continues, adding that Hickenlooper has managed to snag money from only around 13,000 donors, and still boasts only around a million dollars in the bank. Hickenlooper’s second quarter fundraising disclosures reveal he’s only raised $1 million in the past several months, and both campaign experts and Hickenlooper’s own staff agree that he’ll likely be out of money before the second set of debates, scheduled to take place at the end of this month.
“It’s bad – it’s bleeding,” one Colorado political expert told the state’s Fox News affiliate. “I think what his staff is saying, if you’ve seen the Politico report, is that they’ve urged Hickenlooper to get out of the race. His senior aides — I think they are feeling is a sense of frustration, particularly the finance director, who I have known for 25 years — I think it’s tough for him to stay in a race where he sees no momentum being built.”
ABC News reports that six high level Hickenlooper staffers have departed the campaign in recent days, leaving Hickenlooper with almost no director-level assistance. “Brad Komar, campaign manager; Dan Sorenson, national finance director; Lauren Hitt, communications director; John Schueler, digital director; Brendan Koch, deputy finance director; and Nolan Varee, New Hampshire political director are all moving on,” ABC News confirmed Wednesday.
Hickenlooper himself doesn’t seem particularly ready to throw in the towel, and in an interview with MSNBC, blamed his departing senior staff for lack of support and expertise in building a national movement for the moderate Democrat. He remains convinced, it seems, that the six departures represent a changing of the guard and not necessarily an end to his campaign.
“We thought it was time to make a change,” Hickenlooper told the network Tuesday. “You know, these campaigns are long, hard campaigns and you don’t always get it right with the first team.”
But there are no real signs Hickenlooper plans to replace who he lost — and he certainly doesn’t have the money to attract the kind of high-level staff he’d need to completely reorganize his campaign in time to qualify for the second set of presidential debates in late July. Within the next week to ten days, Hickenlooper would have to increase his donor base tenfold and move up at least 2 points in the polls — impossible tasks for a campaign already well behind.
Hickenlooper had tried to be the “voice of reason” in an otherwise leftward-trending field, campaigning actively against a move toward more socialist policies as part of the Democratic party’s platform, and often weighing in against socialist programs that were featured parts of some of his competitors’ agendas. But Hickenlooper wasn’t able to gain ground on the top five candidates at any point in his effort, and once former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race, the “moderate” voice was established — and it wasn’t Hickenlooper.
Although he will likely be the first to depart the field, Hickenlooper probably won’t be alone for long. PBS reports that only a handful of the two dozen Democratic candidates have qualified for the second set of debates so far: “former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro aren’t likely to make the cut, and neither is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whose campaign has been limping along impotently since mid-May.