The headline above, borrowed with a slight change from a traditional Irish folk song, is the title of a memoir about former President John F. Kennedy. It also aptly describes the aborted presidential campaign of our former governor, John Hickenlooper.

A little more than six months in, Hickenlooper became the second announced Democratic contender to exit the campaign after a similar surrender by some guy from California. Hovering around 0% in most polling, running low on the cash necessary to effectively campaign and certain to be excluded from the next round of debates, the decision came as no surprise to rational observers. More astounding is that it took so long for the candidate to recognize what others had seen for awhile.

While reaction from the rest of the field and from professional political circles was polite, not so from the late night TV hosts.

"Do you guys know about John Hickenlooper?" Jimmy Fallon asked his audience. "Yeah, that's part of the problem. He's leaving the race — when he broke the news to all his supporters, they were like, 'Cool, Dad, thanks for telling us.'"

Earlier, and just as devastatingly, Fallon said "Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper is thinking of dropping out the presidential race. 'Don't do it!' said absolutely no one."

Stephen Colbert offered a backhanded compliment about a candidate putting his ego aside for the good of the country. But he also referenced polling that showed Hickenlooper leading other potential Dem challengers to Sen. Cory Gardner by a substantial margin. That information, said Colbert, "…shocked Hickenlooper. He did not know poll numbers could have two digits."

Which brings us to what's next.

"I've heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate," Hickenlooper offered in his exit video. "I intend to give that some serious thought."

That thought process may not take long. National Democratic politicos are pushing for him to enter the Senate race, thinking he's the most likely contender to take out Gardner and help Dems retake the handful of seats necessary to control the Senate. There's a Draft Hickenlooper movement underway and former advisors have already registered web domains useful for a Senate run.

But that road to the Senate is not without its twists and turns.

There's virtually no chance Hickenlooper can clear the field if he decides on a Senate run. Name contenders such as Andrew Romanoff and Mike Johnston have already raised substantial funds and are sitting on cash that'll make them significant contenders. They've gathered donors and enthusiastic volunteers and seem better attuned to the mood of Dem voters now reflecting a more progressive electorate than those that put Hickenlooper in the governor's office.

Johnston, Romanoff, perhaps Dan Baer or John Walsh and most certainly Gardner will offer more of a challenge than Hick faced in his gubernatorial campaigns. Remember Dan Maes, perhaps the most unqualified major ticket candidate in memory, and Bob Beauprez, most noted for posing at the south end of a northbound horse in his campaign literature? The wacky commercials employed in past campaigns — jumping out of an airplane, riding around Denver on a scooter, showering with a suit on — likely won't play as well in today's more serious political climate. And, as demonstrated in the short-lived presidential bid, a somber and serious Hickenlooper doesn't present well out on the stump.

Then there's the intra-party criticism, painting Hickenlooper as opportunistic and hypocritical on the national circuit about supposed accomplishment back home.

In the aftermath of mass shootings, Hickenlooper touted Colorado background checks and gun magazine restrictions enacted under his watch. Legislators, most notably former state Sen. John Morse who was recalled for his principled votes, were quick to point out those laws were passed despite of, not with leadership from, our then governor. It's also hard to forget the bumbling semi-apology to sheriffs for signing the magazine law. Or allegedly quaffing fracking fluid while ambivalent about common-sense oil and gas re-regulation subsequently approved by Colorado legislators.

It also doesn't take a political genius to imagine anti-Hickenlooper ads featuring the candidates own words that he "isn't cut out to be a senator." Or questions from both sides of the political aisle and among independents about someone who might appear to see one of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate as a consolation prize for a strikingly unsuccessful foray onto the national stage.

This'll be interesting. Comments welcome to speharjim@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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