Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is one of more than 20 Democrats running for president in 2020, and is hoping to differentiate himself from the crowded field in one major way: his past experience as a small-business entrepreneur and moderate Democratic policies.

The 67-year-old candidate explained to uPolitics exclusively how he came to create in the 1980s and 1990s what became the largest brewpub in the United States, the Wynkoop, after roughly two years of being unemployed. This ultimately helped him launch his first major job in politics, his eight-year stint as mayor of Denver that began in 2003 after he won the election with two-thirds of the vote.

“I know how to put a team together and build a business,” said Hickenlooper. “I know what it’s like to make a payroll. I know what it’s like to build not just your job but your profession.”

“And then, according to Time magazine, I [became] one of the top five big city mayors by taking that small business experience and applying it to government.”

For his second term as mayor, Hickenlooper — a Pennsylvania native who started his career as a geologist working for Buckhorn Petroleum in Colorado in the early 1980s — won with 87 percent of the vote, he revealed. He then became the first Denver mayor in 180 years to be elected governor of Colorado.


Hickenlooper also touted his role in strengthening Colorado’s economy in recent years.

“We went from being 40th in job creation in Colorado to the number one economy in America for the last three years, according to US News & World Report,” said Hickenlooper. “And our rural areas didn’t get left behind. We’ll have broadband in every city and town by the end of next year, first state in America [to do so].”

“What we’ve done in Colorado is the model for what we need to do as a country,” he added.

Hickenlooper also boasted the fact that as governor of Colorado, he came close to ensuring “near-universal” healthcare coverage for all residents, he pushed for legislation to curb methane emissions and the fact that he took on the National Rifle Association and passed a series of gun reform laws, including banning high-capacity magazines and requiring universal background checks, including for firearm transfers. Hickenlooper has famously said he opposes far-left progressive policies. During a Democratic convention in California earlier this year, he was booed for saying, “socialism is not the answer” to defeating President Donald Trump. 

“I feel that I’m the one person running who has actually done what everyone else is just talking about,” Hickenlooper said. “Of course, I’m only at 2 percent in the polls so this year so far, that hasn’t been a distinguishing characteristic,” he added, laughing.

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