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Colorado Governor Being Considered for Clinton's VP

Gov. John Hickenlooper has made a short list of finalists for Hillary Clinton's running mate.

By Megan Schrader

Gov. John Hickenlooper has made a short list of finalists for Hillary Clinton's running mate.

The news that he was spotted Friday leaving Clinton's private residence in Washington, D.C., surprised some who considered Hickenlooper a long-shot for vice presidential candidate.

But even those who are surprised Hickenlooper is in the running alongside Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Timothy Kaine admit Hickenlooper could bring unique qualities to the ticket.

"He's made it further during this process than I would have surmised," said Eric Sondermann, an independent political analyst and commentator. "I think his attraction is as a business-friendly centrist."

Clinton is expected to announce her pick by the first days of the Democratic National Convention next week. Sources close to Hickenlooper and Colorado's Clinton campaign say there's a lot of excitement he has made the final list.

Both groups are mum about the conversation between Clinton and Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper in many ways could play as the anti-Donald Trump.

Trump is a billionaire who inherited a portion of his wealth.

Hickenlooper's new book, "The Opposite of Woe," brands the Denver millionaire as a bootstraps entrepreneur who risked it all in the brewpub business and struck liquid gold by renovating historic buildings to house restaurants.

"I can't think of a better profession to be in today than being a brewpub owner, if you're trying to get younger voters and millennials," said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based pollster and pundit. "It's just a job that's perfect."

Ciruli said it has been rumored Clinton wants a running mate who will play well with younger voters. Hickenlooper, 64, has described himself as "no spring chicken," but Ciruli said that doesn't mean Hickenlooper, governor of the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, won't appeal to a younger crowd.

His new wife, Robin Pringle, is 37.

Sondermann and Ciruli say there are plenty of reasons for Clinton to pass over Hickenlooper in favor of another candidate, such as two of President Barack Obama's cabinet members who are said to be in the running: Julian Castro, secretary of housing, and Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary.

Hickenlooper is popular in Colorado, but the state has only nine electoral votes.

And Ciruli noted recent polls indicate the Centennial State is not the battleground it once was.

"The battleground is probably in the Midwest, the Rust Belt," Ciruli said.

In that scenario, Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, or Kaine from Virgina would be the better move.

Sondermann noted another weakness for Hickenlooper: his tendency to go off script or to not even have a script.

"The person you want in a vice presidential candidate is somebody who wakes up at 5 a.m., and the first words out of their mouth are, 'Where are my talking points,' and for the next 18 hours they stay on message," Sondermann said. "That is not John Hickenlooper. He's a free spirit. He says what's on his mind, and in a tightly controlled campaign like the Clinton machine, I'm not sure how well that plays."

(c)2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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