In Aspen, John Hickenlooper seeks donors for struggling campaign

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
John Hickenlooper addresses a crowd at a meet and greet at Skye Gallery Saturday.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times | Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times

Speaking to a quaint crowd assembled at a downtown Aspen art gallery Saturday, John Hickenlooper said he will keep fighting to stay in the presidential race by focusing on Iowa in the coming months.

“We are 100% focused on the presidency right now,” the former Colorado governor and ex-Denver mayor told a gathering at Skye Gallery Aspen. “We’re leaving here for Iowa. I’m going to be camped out in Iowa.”

Hickenlooper’s remarks came as his campaign is struggling to remain viable while 25 candidates seek the 2020 Democratic nomination. His campaign staff had a major shake-up early last week, and Hickenlooper is tasked with lining up individual donors to qualify for the democratic primary debates in the fall.

“I’m not giving up,” he told the roughly two dozen people gathered at the gallery, where admission was free.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Hickenlooper will likely qualify for the next round of Democratic debates set for July 30 and 31 in Detroit, where 20 candidates will participate — 10 each night. Hickenlooper’s acceptance will be based on his receiving at least 1% support in a minimum of three qualifying polls. The other criteria to get in the debate is to have donations from at least 65,000 people. Candidates can meet either criteria to get in the Detroit debates. Hickenlooper, 67, said he has received donations from 13,000 people.

Eligibility requirements to the September debates get more difficult; candidates will need a minimum of 130,000 donors while garnering at least 2% support in at least four qualifying polls.

Hickenlooper, who announced his candidacy in early March, made a plea to people to visit his website and make a contribution, of any amount, to build up his stable of donors.

“Try to email out to get your friends, get 10 or 15 friends to also give a buck,” he said, saying there’s still time to build momentum.

Asked if he would consider the race for Senate, where first-term officeholder Cory Gardner, a Republican, is up for re-election, Hickenlooper said his focus is on the Oval Office.

“We are 100% focused on winning the White House, and we rebooted the campaign (last) week, brought in some new staff and some new ideas,” he said.

The top names so far in the race for the Democratic nomination are former Obama diplomat Daniel Baer, former state senator Mike Johnston, former state house Democratic Alice Madden, former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff and former Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh.

Hickenlooper did not hold any fundraisers in Aspen this weekend, he said.

His campaign announced Thursday he would be in Aspen for two events discussing “the intersection of government with the arts and outdoors industries,” including a panel discussion Saturday at the Skye Gallery. He also spoke Friday at R. Carter Gallery in Aspen.

There was no panel discussion Saturday, however, because a panel could not be put together at the last minute, according to Hickenlooper campaign aide Hayden Cleverly. Hickenlooper was a bit late for the Saturday event, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The reason: He said it was difficult to find parking.

Another presidential hopeful in town last week was Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who held a private fundraiser at the home of Howard and Betty Wallach on Wednesday, the eve of the Fourth of July. Howard Wallach is chair of the Pitkin County Democrats, which cannot endorse a candidate at this time per party rules.

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