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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, center, takes a tour of Flying Boat Brewing Company in St. Petersburg, Fla., along with Chris King, left, the state's Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. (John Frank, Colorado Sun)

TAMPA, Fla. — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hit the campaign trail on Friday to draw attention to Democratic candidates for governor in Florida and Georgia — and to himself.

The two-day trip is the first since he announced Monday that he formed Giddy Up, a federal leadership PAC, a step forward toward a potential White House bid in 2020.

Hickenlooper participated in a roundtable at a startup incubator in Tampa and visited a brewery in St. Petersburg with Chris King, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. King is the running mate of Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and Florida’s first black candidate for governor.

King introduced the term-limited Hickenlooper as “one of our nation’s great governors” and said he did “all the things we want to do in Florida.”

The conversation with local entrepreneurs — as well as the tour of Flying Boat Brewing Company — put Hickenlooper in his element, allowing him to tell his story about starting a brewpub and his work to create jobs in Colorado.

It’s a message he plans to take across the country in the next six months as he contemplates whether to enter the wide-open Democratic presidential race, a decision he expects to make in early 2019.

In the next week, Hickenlooper plans to travel to New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Austin, Texas.

Hickenlooper forgot to mention his leadership PAC at the roundtable event — “I’m still trying to find my gait,” he said in the elevator as he left.

But he didn’t hide his ambitions when asked about his next moves after the event.

“We just opened a PAC and we’ll see if I run in 2020,” Hickenlooper told one of the particpants. “Why not go crazy, huh?”

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    John Frank

    John Frank is a former Colorado Sun staff writer. He left the publication in January 2021.