Hickenlooper Sworn in as Senator


Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) is sworn in for his first Senate term by Vice President Mike Pence. He joins the 117th congress, and beat incumbent Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Vander Ritchie and Maddie Porter

On January 3, 2021, Vice-President Mike Pence swore in former governor John Hickenlooper as one of six new senators joining the chamber for the 117th session. After the ceremony, he bumped elbows with Pence, a departure from the usual handshake due to COVID-19 precautions.

Eyes all over the country were on Colorado, as it was seen as a crucial race for Democrats in their bid to regain control of both wings of Congress. A battle that is yet to be over, as two Senate seats in Georgia remain undecided. 

Senator Cory Gardner narrowly won his 2014 race against democratic incumbent Senator Mark Udall, who became famous for his membership in the Senate Intelligence Committee and his crucial role in publishing “The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” including his blistering speech on the Senate floor condemning the CIA’s interrogation techniques following the September 11 terrorist attacks, and their misrepresentation of the efficacy of torture in the years following. Udall’s vocal role made him privy to massive attacks and spending from Senate Republicans, focusing particularly on counterterrorism. This makes Gardner one of only two Republicans to hold statewide office in Colorado, and one of only two Republican senators from states that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won in 2016 during the 116th Congress. He’s a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and has seen high approval ratings among Republicans, pro-life organizations, and 2nd amendment activists. Around the state, on the other hand, his devotion to a president that the majority of Coloradans don’t approve of, and his recent support of confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett days before the election have made him particularly unpopular.

His opponent, former governor John Hickenlooper, on the other hand, is one of the most well-known politicians in Colorado. He served as mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011, and as governor from 2011 to 2019. In 2019, he even briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, before dropping out to run for the Senate. During his term as governor, he introduced strong gun legislation in the wake of the 2012 Aurora shooting, pushed for an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, and oversaw the legalization of marijuana. Throughout his term, he was popular and came into his primary as the clear winner. Out of left field came Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. Romanoff was a progressive challenger, and quickly consolidated anti-Hickenlooper Democrats around him, winning 86% of the vote at the statewide caucus. He supported the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, running primarily on the ideals of Green Energy. Romanoff snagged endorsements from groups like the Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution Denver. Governor Hickenlooper also faced scrutiny for corruption during his tenure as Governor. On June 12, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission fined Hickenlooper $2,750, and found him in Contempt of the court for defying a subpoena. During his term as governor, he improperly accepted a one-way flight and a limousine ride from large corporations, directly breaking Colorado Ethics laws. After that, and particularly weak debate performances against speaker Romanoff, the primary was surprisingly tight, Hickenlooper winning with just 58.8% of the vote.

Despite his shortcomings, Hickenlooper still came out on top, and easily beat Gardner. He was sworn in early Sunday morning, along with Senate newcomers Republicans Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Roger Marshall of Kansas,  Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and fellow Democrat Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico.