John Wright Hickenlooper

Contact Information

Telephone:303-866-2471 (Main phone number)
Telephone:720-508-4204 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Narberth, PA
Residence:Denver, CO
First Elected:2010


Next Election:2014

Graduate education: Wesleyan University


Graduate education: Wesleyan University


John Hickenlooper was born in Narberth, Pa., and now lives in Denver. He attended Wesleyan University where he earned a bachelor's in English in 1974 and a master's in geology in 1980.

Hickenlooper worked in the early 1980s as a geologist for Buckhorn Petroleum. He lost his job in an oil industry crash and started a brewpub in a run-down section of downtown Denver in 1988, expanding to eight restaurants before he sold his interest in the company to become mayor of Denver.

After serving only two years as mayor, Hickenlooper was named in 2005 by Time magazine as among the country's top five "big-city" mayors.

Hickenlooper was elected Colorado's 42nd governor in 2010.

Hickenlooper and his wife, writer Helen Thorpe, have a son. The governor decided to stay in his north Denver residence instead of moving into the Governor's Mansion, though Hickenlooper entertains there.


John Hickenlooper routinely introduces himself as an outsider, a sloppy speaker and not a natural politician. President Barack Obama summed Hickenlooper up differently in May 2012 when he told a fundraising crowd that Hickenlooper is "one of the funniest governors" in the country.

Certainly Colorado's 42nd governor has a gift for hamming it up. As Denver mayor he rallied public support for a tax measure by taping a commercial while jumping out of an airplane. During his successful 2010 governor's race, Hickenlooper taped an ad poking fun at his inability to ride a horse, and another fully clothed in a running shower joking about how political attack ads make people feel dirty.

The all-smiles approach worked well for Hickenlooper against a weak Republican challenger and a third-party candidate. Hickenlooper won with 51 percent of the vote, almost 15 points above the nearest competitor. Nationwide, Hickenlooper was the only statewide Democratic candidate to run above 50 percent that year.

Hickenlooper's jovial demeanor has served him well in the governor's office, too. By his own admission, he is averse to controversy and prefers to work for compromise. It's a skill that has come in handy as he has presided over a split Legislature, with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House.

In Hickenlooper's first year, he steered through a budget that slashed half a billion in state spending and maintained unpopular tax hikes enacted under Hickenlooper's Democratic predecessor, including higher vehicle fees and a new sales tax on candy and soda. Hickenlooper's first year ended with another stunning achievement — getting the Colorado Oil & Gas Association and environmentalists to agree to sweeping new oversight for a controversial drilling procedure.

Hickenlooper didn't have as much success his second year. Though an improving economy eased pressure on the state budget, leading to near-record-high votes for the spending plan, state lawmakers did not agree to all items on the governor's agenda.

Republicans in the House twice stopped a civil-unions measure for same-sex couples, even after Hickenlooper called them back to Denver for the first special session since 2006 to re-consider what he emotionally called a "fundamental question of fairness and civil rights."

And lawmakers in 2012 did not follow Hickenlooper's suggestion to enact a drilling law clarifying that only state authorities, not local governments, can regulate oil and gas drilling. Instead, Hickenlooper appointed another commission to resolve conflicts between energy companies and local governments. That panel ended by recommending no additional laws, and both sides conceded that drilling regulation disputes would likely continue to be resolved in court.

Hickenlooper has given limited clues about what he'll pursue during the second half of his term. Hickenlooper's budget director has indicated that the administration may try to pursue budgeting changes in the second half of his term, including a shift to biennial budgeting used in other states.

American Conservative Union Rating: Not rated

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: Not rated


John Hickenlooper won his June 2014 primary, he will face Bob Beauprez in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 25, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018