John Hickenlooper

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John Hickenlooper
Governor of Colorado
In office
January 11, 2011 - Present
Term ends
January 13, 2015
Years in position 4
PredecessorBill Ritter (D)
Base salary$90,000 per year
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$4,579,658
Term limits2 terms
Prior offices
Mayor of Denver
2004 - 2010
Bachelor'sWesleyan University
Master'sWesleyan University
Date of birthFebruary 7, 1952
Place of birthNarbergh, Pennsylvania
ProfessionGeologist, entrepreneur
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
John Wright Hickenlooper (b. February 7, 1952, in Narbergh, Pennsylvania) is the 42nd and current Democratic Governor of Colorado. He was first elected to the position in 2010.

Hickenlooper ran unopposed in the August 10 primary and went on to defeat Dan Maes (R), Jaimes Brown (L) and Tom Tancredo (C) in the general election on November 2, 2010.[1] Following the election, Hickenlooper was sworn into office on January 11, 2011. His first term will end on January 13, 2015.

Hickenlooper's first term as governor has thus far focused on efforts to reform education funding, gun-control and health care within the state. Since taking office, he has signed several bills relevant to these causes into law, including a law to expand background checks for prospective gun owners, and an educational funding reform bill to bolster budgets for early education programs, struggling school districts and programs that help at-risk youth.

Hickenlooper is the Vice Chairman of the executive committee of the National Governor's Association. He, along with eight other governors, will determine the association's priorities and actions for the year. He was named to this leadership role in August, 2013.[2]

Before becoming governor, Hickenlooper served as mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011, during which time the city hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Prior to entering public service, Hickenlooper was a prominent and successful entrepreneur, considered to be part of the revitalization of Denver historic “LoDo” (Lower Downtown) area. He operated Wynkoop Brewing Co., a Denver brewpub, which he opened in 1988. He was also a geologist for Buckhorn Petroleum, a now defunct oil company, from 1981 to 1988.[3]

Hickenlooper is eligible for re-election and has stated his intention to seek a second term as governor in 2014.[4] He faces a possible showdown with Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler,[5] who is pursuing the GOP primary nomination for the chance to unseat Hickenlooper in the general election contest.[6] The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Hickenlooper was born in Narbergh, Pennsylvania. After losing his father, he was raised by his mother; he credits his approach to managing Denver's budget to her exceptionally frugal housekeeping, something she learned after living through the Depression.[3]

He earned both a BA and MA from Wesleyan University and moved to Denver in 1981 to take a job as a geologist with Buckhorn Petroleum at the height of the city's oil boom. He lost his job when Denver's economy faltered in the 1980s and ultimately became a key player in revitalizing downtown Denver LoDo district. He bought a neglected warehouse in the district's heart and, in 1988, founded what is now the The Wynkoop Brewing Co. at 16th and Wynkoop. In the late 1980s, the area of Denver between Union Station and the Capitol Hill was dangerous and rundown; a key aspect of his business's success was in drawing people to visit at all.[3]

Redeveloping the Denver Bronco's home stadium and bringing a Major League Baseball franchise to the city were huge boosts to redeveloping the city and Hickenlooper was heavily involved in both. Today, the Colorado Rockies' play at Coors Field; the decision to situate the stadium at 20th and Blake in the northern part of the LoDo neighborhood was a coup for the businessmen working to improve the area's reputation.[3]

LoDo is today filled with high end shopping and restaurants; its residential areas feature lofts that sell for close to seven figures and Hickenlooper's restaurant, often simply referred to as "the Wynkoop", is seen as anchor of downtown Denver.


  • B.A. - Wesleyan University (1974)
  • M.A. - Wesleyan University (1980)

Political career

Governor of Colorado (2011-Present)

Hickenlooper first won election on November 2, 2010 and assumed office January 11, 2011.


School funding

Hickenlooper signed a bill reforming state education funding on May 21, 2013. Senate Bill 213 proposed changes to school funding that would bolster budgets for early education programs, struggling school districts and programs that help at-risk youth.[7] This legislation requires $925 million in additional taxes that must be approved by initiative by 2017.[8] Hickenlooper urged more funding for public schools during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, citing Colorado's relatively small education budget. "Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming all spend more per pupil than Colorado. In fact only two neighboring states (Arizona and Utah) spend less on education than we do," stated Hickenlooper on his campaign website.[9]

Medicaid Expansion

Hickenlooper called for a further expansion of Colorado Medicaid to cover 160,000 more people, including the 86,000 college students in Colorado with incomes below the federal poverty line and other college students with annual incomes above the federal poverty line up to $15,414. Even if the federal government paid all costs of this expansion for the first few years, the governor's administration estimated that this change would cost the state $1.4 billion over 10 years. Linda Gorman of the Independence Institute's Health Care Policy Center criticized Hickenlooper's proposal in a January 24 opinion piece because of its expense to taxpayers. Gorman asserted that many college students would likely drop their private insurance and enroll in the much cheaper Medicaid program if Hickenlooper's expansion is approved. She also pointed out that out-of-state students would also become eligible to enroll in Colorado Medicaid.[10]

Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")

In December, 2012, Hickenlooper declined to enter Colorado into the federal health-exchange system established under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare," in favor of setting up a state-based system.[11] Colorado is one of eighteen states - including New Mexico, New York, Maryland, and Washington - that decided to create and run individual health-exchange systems by the December 14, 2012 deadline. The exchange is an online marketplace for citizens to purchase health insurance.[12][13]

Gun control

Hickenlooper supports background checks for gun purchases and said help needs to be available for people with mental health issues before they turn to violence.[14]

On March 20, 2013, Hickenlooper signed new gun laws into effect. The bills expanded background checks on gun purchases and limited the size of ammunition magazines.[15]

Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Hickenlooper was ranked number 6. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[16][17]

Judicial appointments

As governor, Hickenlooper is responsible for appointing judges to Colorado state courts. In Colorado, the governor makes a judicial appointment after candidates are recommended by a judicial nominating commission. After the governor appoints a judge, she or he must serve at least two years in office before running for election. For an up-to-date list of all of Hickenlooper's appointees, see Judgepedia's page on his appointments.


Labor Department appointee

Hickenlooper appointed Ellen Golombek the Executive Director of the Department of Labor and Employment. The announcement stirred up passions among Republicans, who said the development was bad for business. They cited Golombek’s ties to organized labor, including her onetime leadership of the Colorado AFL-CIO. At the time of her appointment, Golombek was the state director for America Votes, an organization whose stated purpose is to “advance progressive policies, expand access to the ballot, coordinate issue advocacy and election campaigns, and protect every American’s right to vote.”

Colorado State Senate Minority leader Mike Kopp said Hickenlooper’s appointment would trigger fears among the state’s employers. “His selection of a noted progressive activist and union boss in Ms. Golombek certainly will raise plenty of eyebrows in Colorado’s business community,” said Kopp.[18]

Mayor of Denver (2004-2010)

Hickenlooper's 2003 race for Mayor of Denver was his first foray into politics; he won an easy re-election in 2007 and is well-liked in Colorado's capitol. Denver, a city and a county in Colorado, technically has non-partisan municipal elections. However, Hickenlooper's Democratic affiliation likely helped him in both his campaigns. Since taking public office, Hickenlooper's business interests have been in a blind trust.



See also: Colorado gubernatorial election, 2014

Hickenlooper ran for re-election as Governor of Colorado.[4] Hickenlooper sought the Democratic nomination in the primary. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


See also: Colorado gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Hickenlooper did not have any opposition in the August 10 primary. He defeated Dan Maes (R), Jaimes Brown (L), and Tom Tancredo (C) in the general election on November 2, 2010.[19]

2010 Colorado gubernatorial general election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda John Hickenlooper 51.01%
     Republican Party Dan Maes 11.13%
     Constitution Party Tom Tancredo 36.43%
     Libertarian Party Jaimes Brown 0.74%
     Independent Jason R. Clark 0.48%
     Independent Paul Noel Fiorino 0.19%
     write-in Willie Travis Chambers >0.01%
     write-in Michael R. Moore >0.01%
     write-in Peter J. Carr >0.01%
     write-in Holly Cremeens >0.01%
Total Votes 1,787,730

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Laird is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Laird raised a total of $4,579,658 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 8, 2013.[20]

John Hickenlooper's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Colorado Not up for election $552,457
2010 Governor of Colorado Won $4,027,201
Grand Total Raised $4,579,658


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of John Hickenlooper & Joseph Garcia's donors each year.[21] Click [show] for more information.


In 2005, Governing magazine named Hickenlooper as one of eight "Public Officials of the Year" for building unity in the Denver metropolitan area, especially in the successful campaign to pass a sales tax referendum to fund a new mass transit system.[22] Other honorees included Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Florida Senator Paula Dockery. Each year since 1994, Governing has selected a handful of state and local officials to honor for standout job performance. The Public Officials of the Year program "recognizes leaders from state, city and county government who exemplify the ideals of public service."[23]


Hickenlooper resides in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. He and his wife, writer Helen Thorpe, are currently separated. They have one son together named Teddy. [3]

Recent news

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 'Colorado Secretary of State', "COLORADO CUMULATIVE REPORT: OFFICIAL RESULTS - GENERAL ELECTION", November 29, 2010
  2. National Governor's Association, NGA Announces New Executive Committee Leadership, August 4, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4, "About the Governor," accessed July 5, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 National Journal, "Hickenlooper Winning Bipartisan Praise," January 24, 2013
  5. The Denver Post, "Scott Gessler evaluating run for Colorado governor in 2014," May 16, 2013
  6., "Amid flood disaster, Scott Gessler announces bid for governor," September 17, 2013
  7. Colorado General Assembly, "Senate Bill 213," May 21, 2013
  8. CBS Denver, "Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Massive School Funding Overhaul Bill," May 21, 2013
  9. Hickenlooper for Colorado, "Education," Accessed May 30, 2013
  10. Linda Gorman, PhD, Solutions project, "Opinion: Colorado Medicaid expansion would make 86,000 college students eligible," January 24, 2013
  11. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  12. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  13. The Daily Times, "Governor Susana Martinez to tackle state-based health exchange," January 9, 2013
  14. USA Today, "Where each state stands on gun-control legislation," January 14, 2013
  15. NBC news, "Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper signs landmark gun-control bills," March 20, 2013
  16. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  17. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  18. "Incoming guv’s labor department pick raises GOP concerns," Colorado News Agency, Jan 5th, 2011
  19. 'Colorado Secretary of State', "COLORADO CUMULATIVE REPORT: OFFICIAL RESULTS - GENERAL ELECTION", November 29, 2010
  20. Follow the Money, "Career financing for John Hickenlooper and Joseph Garcia," accessed July 8, 2013
  21. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  22. Alan Greenblatt, Governing, "On a Roll," 2005
  23. Governing, "GOVERNING Announces 2012 Public Officials of the Year," October 19, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Mayor of Denver
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bill Ritter (D)
Governor of Colorado
Succeeded by