520 Days, 8 Hours, 45 Minutes: That is the time it took from when President Obama filed for re-election to when Governor Hickenlooper finally embraced the titular head of his own party, giving him a full-throated endorsement at the Democratic National Convention last night.
Per Sherry’s article:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Gov. John Hickenlooper takes the stage Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, he will have formally moved from a carefully crafted apolitical persona to a place where he is stumping for a Democratic president.
Hickenlooper is usually among the greeters on the tarmac when President Barack Obama lands in Colorado — seven times this year alone — and the two have shared phone conversations about Colorado’s various tragedies, from the drought to the wildfires to the Aurora shooting.
But Hickenlooper has not often publicly praised Obama in his battle against Mitt Romney. He hasn’t been seen mingling at many of his Colorado fundraisers and, in his gubernatorial bid in the Republican sweep year of 2010, was even viewed as distancing himself from the president.
As Sherry notes, Hickenlooper has always been at the edges of Obama’s campaign, but we’d note careful to never fully associate himself with an incumbent President whose approval ratings are underwater.
Hickenlooper claimed to Sherry that he’s “always supported” the President. Funny, you could have fooled us.
Last Fall, Hickenlooper told the Colorado Springs Gazette that he was only “likely” to endorse Obama’s re-election — that doesn’t sound like someone who “always supported” the President. Hick also told the Gazette he wasn’t planning on stumping for Obama, claiming he “wasn’t the best public speaker.”
Based on the speech Hickenlooper gave last night — during which a live shot of the speech showed that even Ken Salazar wasn’t paying attention — he may have been right about his oratory skills.
Regardless of his reasons, it’s still shocking how long Hickenlooper avoided an outright endorsement of Obama. Last week he introduced Obama at an event at CSU, but the full political embrace didn’t occur until last night.
With Hickenlooper’s penchant for “parsing words” as Sherry put it, it’s hard to tell exactly when a formal endorsement of Obama was offered by Hick, so we’re taking last night’s speech as the definitive seal of approval.
520 Days, 8 Hours, 45 minutes: That is when Hickenlooper’s nonpartisan brand began to die.
While Hick stuck tightly to his script, mostly pontificating about his own business career and craft beer production in Colorado, the moment had significant political repercussions to it. Should Obama win re-election, Hick can safely claim a role in that victory. But should Obama’s recent polling trajectory in Colorado continue, and should he lose the state or the Presidency, Hickenlooper’s star will shine a little bit less.
Hickenlooper’s strength politically has always come partially from the fact that his brand of politics are often separate and distinct from that of the Democratic Party. Happy to annoy environmentalists with his love of fracking, or liberals with his avoidance of a position on the tax increase ballot initiative Prop 103, Hick is beloved by many in Colorado specifically because he avoids toeing the liberal Democratic line.
Last night, he tossed aside that political path in favor of a more partisan role — one he may regret embracing coming the night of November 6.