Yes. Unless something changes dramatically, this is likely the end of Hickenlooper’s national run. And, his challenges are formidable. The 10-person debate nights will be packed with candidates struggling for their moment. As the June debate demonstrated, only a couple of stars emerged from the debates and they tended to be dominated by the early frontrunners: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
Hickenlooper’s first night has Bernie Sanders and Warren, who will no doubt command attention, and Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke will be looking for their own breakouts. Hickenlooper will be standing near Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a new entrant who will get noticed just by being new.
|John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet|
Michael Bennet, who had a better June debate than Hickenlooper and is well liked by the pundit and commentary class (See George Wells’ endorsement), is in the first night’s show that will feature some version of a rematch between Biden and Harris as Cory Booker and Julián Castro fight for a notice. Bennet is on the far left edge of the stage, opposite Mayor Bill de Blasio – it might be a good firing position.
April Zesbaugh asked if Colorado’s candidates being on separate nights was an advantage.
I think so. They are both moderates, but with very separate messages, and some independent space is no doubt welcome by both. Hickenlooper especially didn’t appreciate being described as coming in second to Bennet last time.
Possibly the biggest challenge for both candidates is that one powerful storyline framing this debate is who quits. Pundits and pols are looking for who leaves and how soon. Most believe there should be no more than ten for the September debate and, as of now, only the top six in the polls qualify. When will Tim Ryan, John Delaney and possibly Hickenlooper get out will be the question asked repeatedly.