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Politics and Government

John Hickenlooper looks to Colorado to power his 2020 presidential ambitions

A Colorado Sun analysis of his federal leadership PAC shows 80 percent of his contributions came from Colorado

Gov. John Hickenlooper stands with his wife, Robin Pringle, and son, Teddy, before the inauguration of Gov.-elect Jared Polis at the Colorado Capitol on Jan. 8, 2019. (Pool photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
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John Hickenlooper raised $600,000 in less than four months after he entered the 2020 presidential fray, but he’ll need plenty more to make a serious run for the White House.

The former Colorado governor’s federal leadership PAC reported more than $229,000 in the final month of the year, bringing the total since its launch in mid-September to $600,100, according to a Federal Election Commission filing Thursday.

Giddy Up PAC ended 2018 with $331,000 in the bank after spending more than $268,000 since its inception on consultants, polling and travel ahead of Hickenlooper’s expected announcement about a Democratic presidential bid in late February or March.

The fundraising for the leadership PAC is not transferable to a presidential campaign, but it offers a glimpse into Hickenlooper’s ability to raise money and the reception he’s getting from major donors as he travels the nation.

So far, about 80 percent of the PAC donations are from loyal friends and supporters in Colorado, according to a Colorado Sun analysis.

Hickenlooper, who left office Jan. 8 and is now traveling the country talking to donors, acknowledged that he’s at a disadvantage when it comes to fundraising compared to other more prominent Democratic candidates.

“Can you raise enough money to compete on the national landscape? These U.S. senators who come from coastal states have been raising large amounts of money for a long time,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “But I do think what we’ve done in Colorado — finding ways to bring people together who normally don’t compromise — I still believe that has currency and value in America and in Washington especially.”

MORE: John Hickenlooper searches for his liberal voice even as he preaches a new brand of politics ahead of 2020.

The maximum contribution to the PAC is $5,000, and about 40 percent of the PAC’s contributors have given the maximum. Those donors include Norman Brownstein of the influential law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; former Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton; Robert Katz of Vail Resorts; and John and Anna Sie, founder of Startz Entertainment. Isaac Slade, a musician in the rock band The Fray, donated $2,000.

“John Hickenlooper has long been a strong fundraiser, breaking state records at the time in his gubernatorial reelection. Giddy Up PAC’s report reflects that,” said Brad Komar, the committee’s executive director. “The governor has amassed substantial support to travel and advocate for collaborative, results-oriented, values-driven policies and candidates.”

Giddy Up has donated $36,400 to candidates and political parties, with $14,000 of that spending aimed at Iowa. That includes $5,000 to the Iowa Democratic House Caucus and $2,500 to the Iowa Democratic Party.

The PAC also donated $2,500 to the Colorado Democratic Party. Giddy Up supported 14 winning Democratic candidates around the country, and 11 losing candidates.

But much of Giddy Up’s spending paid staff and consultants, as well as conducted research Hickenlooper will use if he makes a run for the Democratic nomination. The PAC spent more than $53,000 on polling in December, reports show


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