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Why hasn't Hickenlooper touted Bennet more?

Posted by Kelly Maher on August 9th, 2010
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[Headline and story revised 8/10/10 with link to list of Bennet endorsements from March that includes Hickenlooper; as well as his donation record to Bennet's campaign.]

Interesting question. . . nobody’s asked it as far as I can tell.

In his TV ads, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet touts his experience as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s former chief of staff. Their ties are deep. Hickenlooper’s commencement address at his alma mater in May included this:

“As Mayor, we recruited the best and the brightest, many from business and taking large pay cuts. You better believe I took advantage of my Wesleyan connections. I recruited Michael Bennet, ’86, from the corporate world as my Chief of Staff and then Superintendent of Schools. And it turned out that he liked the life – now he’s the Senator from Colorado, running for re-election.”

The month before, speaking at the Arapahoe County Democratic Party assembly, Hickenlooper studiously avoided favoring either Bennet or primary challenger Andrew Romanoff.

“If you look out over the landscape of anywhere in the United States, I don’t think there are any two more talented candidates to be in the U.S. Senate than Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff,” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper also said, “What we have to do is make sure, as they work through this campaign, we keep it very positive on both sides.” (Well, it’s been so positive that Dan Balz of The Washington Post singled out the Bennet/Romanoff  primary for its “sheer nastiness and personal ill will…“)

So, maybe there was little to be gained by Hickenlooper, who’s running for governor of Colorado, making a big push for Bennet in a contested Democratic Senate primary.

But that didn’t stop the entire Democratic Colorado congressional delegation from backing Bennet. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Jared Polis, John Salazar, Betsy Markey and Diana DeGette all threw in with Bennet over Romanoff.

I sent an e-mail to Hickenlooper’s campaign spokesperson this morning, making sure I didn’t miss a Hickenlooper pitch for Bennet and asking “..is there a specific reason considering how close their working relationship has been in the past?”

If I get a response back, I’ll post it here. (In February, Hickenlooper did donate the maximum of $2,400 apiece to Bennet’s primary and general election campaigns.)

Should Bennet survive Tuesday’s primary, none of it may matter. However, if Bennet loses, and particularly if he loses narrowly, here’s my question: how many votes could Hickenlooper have moved with a well-timed push for his old pal?

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  • Post by Kelly Maher on August 9th, 2010

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