Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hickenlooper Gets Good Start – KOA Radio

In a KOA drive-time radio interview on Thursday, John Hickenlooper’s Colorado announcement day, April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz hosted an analysis of Hickenlooper’s first week as a presidential candidate. Some points:

  • Hickenlooper’s video announcement got top coverage earlier in the week. It was picked up by all the major national and some international (BBC) news outlets, which was impressive since he’s the 14th candidate to announce. It demonstrates that all the advanced work with the media is making him the most viable of a big list of longshots. Of course, the Monday national announcement made Thursday’s Colorado rally a local story.
John Hickenlooper speaks during rally to kick off his
presidential campaign in Civic Center Park, March 7, 2019
| Andy Colwell/Special to The Colorado Sun

  • The campaign claimed it raised $1 million in its first two days of operation, another sign of a good organizational effort. Hickenlooper joined Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, and the ever prolific fundraiser, Bernie Sanders, on the top of the quick turnaround list. But, it takes massive amounts of money to compete effectively in the early states while building a national profile.
  • Hickenlooper has a good start, but joins a group of candidates at one percent or below in name recognition with Democrats. And, although he joins other successful Democratic governors with low early name identification that went on to be the nominees and some became president – Carter (1976), Dukakis (1988) and Clinton (1992) – it’s still a serious handicap. Can Hickenlooper go from less than 1 percent to 5 percent by June so as to be taken seriously in the first debate?
  • Hickenlooper’s so-called “moderation” is not so much about Democratic issues as he has sufficiently liberal positions on all the litmus test issues, such as health care, climate change and guns. Hickenlooper mostly offers a different tone, more reconciliation and pragmatic problem-solving. It may be too Pollyannaish for today’s environment, but there is hunger for less polarization and endless warfare.
  • The Democratic Party is divided between those who want an issue activist, pure in their positions and a winner against Trump. Hence, there is room for a Hickenlooper or a Joe Biden or Beto O’Rourke, but they must appear capable of handling the barrage of demeaning and disparaging attacks from Trump and put Trump on the defensive sufficiently to convince Democrats they are a fighter and a winner – a challenge for Hickenlooper and his mild demeanor.
  • One strange fact about Hickenlooper’s start is that, after several months of effort, it’s not clear he would win Colorado Democrats today – in fact, he probably wouldn’t. Also his support among the leadership of the state party is thin, to put it mildly. In fact, Michael Bennet, the senior senator, is still campaigning.

This interview was conducted at 11:20 pm in Takayama, Japan, Denver’s sister city, for live broadcast at 7:20 am on KOA drive-time. The wonders of the internet and cellphones.

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