Breaking News
More () »

Denver's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Denver, Colorado | 9NEWS.com

The elephant (er, donkey) in the room: Is Hickenlooper flirting with a 2020 run?

Questions about Gov. Hickenlooper's future dominated a press conference about aging

KUSA — Gov. John Hickenlooper proudly strode to the podium Tuesday to announce that Colorado has become just the third age-friendly state designated by AARP. Hickenlooper used the occasion to tout Lifelong Colorado, a new initiative that “addresses the challenges of a growing population of Coloradans.”

Then came the Q and A.

Not one question was asked about aging in Colorado. Instead, reporters only asked about Hickenlooper’s political future and if he was considering a run for president. Speculation has become its own parlor game on Capitol Hill, and interest rose considerably Monday when Hickenlooper set up his own leadership PAC.

RELATED | Hickenlooper forms leadership PAC for potential presidential run

The first question? What does the news that you have formed a PAC mean for potentially higher office?

Hickenlooper was quick to answer, perhaps expecting the query. “It just means that I am exploring it, which I have been doing for the last several months anyway,” he said. “This allows me the ability to have a certain amount of freedom. I can gather more information. I can go around the country. I can support candidates in other states.”

The second question: “Is Gov. Kasich, is he any part of this?” A reporter was referring to Ohio’s Republican governor, who has teamed with Hickenlooper to encourage bipartisanship. “Or is Gov. Hickenlooper’s future squarely with the Democratic Party?”

“My future is squarely with the Democratic Party,” Hickenlooper gamely responded. “Gov. Kasich didn’t even send me a text! I was crushed!” Cue the laughter.

Much of the press conference took on a lighthearted tone. When Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a co-chair of Lifelong Colorado, mistakenly referred to Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers as “Gov. Suthers,” the gaffe drew laughter.

Suthers walked up to the podium a few minutes later. “We’ve got a lot of press here,” he said, looking at reporters who had gathered in greater than usual numbers to press Hickenlooper about his political ambitions. “So I want to begin by categorically denying that I came up to Denver today to discuss with Gov. Hickenlooper serving as his running mate.”

Hickenlooper tried in vain to steer questions back to Lifelong Colorado. The initiative aims to increase the number of cities and counties around the state that are friendly to an aging population. Speakers singled out Colorado Springs as a model. For now, Mayor Suthers will co-chair Lifelong Colorado, since he emphatically stated he would not join a potential Hickenlooper presidential bid.