U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who has been inching toward a 2020 presidential bid, announced Wednesday night that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Late last month, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” the Colorado Democrat said in a written statement. “While hearing news like this is never easy, I am fortunate it was detected early, and as a result, my prognosis is good. During the upcoming Senate recess, I will have surgery in Colorado and return to work following a brief recovery.”
The 54-year-old added: “The work we have in front of us to restore a politics that is worthy of our kids and grandkids has never been more important. This unanticipated hurdle only reinforces how strongly I feel about contributing to the larger conversation about the future of our country, and I am even more committed to drive that conversation in a positive direction.”
Bennet made the news public in a release to media outlets and in an interview with the digital news site The Colorado Independent.
Bennet told The Independent that he was planning to announce his run for the presidency this month, but that he postponed his decision in light of the cancer diagnosis. He said he is committed to seeking the Democratic nomination for president if he is cancer free.
Colorado’s congressional delegation released an outpouring of support for Bennet on Wednesday night.
“Jaime and I are holding (Bennet) and his family in our prayers and know he won’t let this stop his continued work for Colorado and our country,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, referencing his wife. “Here is to a full and speedy recovery.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Boulder Democrat, also offered his family’s thoughts and prayers.
“Michael is a tireless advocate for our state, and I know he will face it with the same perseverance he has always shown,” Neguse said.
Bennet was appointed to his U.S. Senate seat in 2009 by then-Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter after Ken Salazar was tapped by President Barack Obama to be Interior Secretary. He was elected in 2010 and reelected in 2016.
Despite his diagnosis, Bennet has kept up a busy schedule. On Tuesday he announced the reintroduction of his Medicare X health insurance proposal with Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. On Wednesday, he took to the Senate floor to protest Republicans’ altering of vote rules in order to push through Trump administration appointees.
In an interview with The Colorado Sun on Tuesday about his CORE Act effort to protect some 400,000 acres of land in Colorado, he made no hint of his diagnosis and declined to talk about his presidential ambitions.
“I got nothing to say today,” he said.
Bennet is slated to visit New Hampshire on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as part of his exploration of a presidential bid. Those plans were announced earlier this week and no subsequent announcement has been made about them being altered.