Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper won the Democratic primary for the state’s upcoming Senate election, overcoming an ethics probe and resurfaced video of racially insensitive comments.
Hickenlooper will face off against incumbent Republican Cory Gardner in a highly contested race. Gardner is one of the only Republicans defending a seat in a state lost by President Trump in 2016.
“Let me be clear: change is coming, and you and I are going to bring it together,” Hickenlooper said in a video message to supporters of primary challenger Andrew Romanoff. “I’ve never lost an election in this state, and I don’t intend to lose this one.”
Romanoff, the Colorado State House speaker, thanked his supporters and called on them to back Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper was fined $3,000 in early June following an investigation by an independent ethics commission. The commission found that Hickenlooper violated state law on politicians accepting gifts in 2018, when he was given a ride in a Maserati limousine as well as on a private plane.
The former governor also drew criticism after video surfaced of remarks he made in 2014 comparing elected officials to slaves on a slave ship, with their schedulers as masters.
“If I was to describe a scheduler, a political scheduler, imagine an ancient slave ship,” Hickenlooper tells an audience at an event. The scheduler is “the guy with the whip, and you’re rowing — we elected officials are the ones that are rowing, and they have nothing but hard, often thankless things to do.”
Hickenlooper apologized after the remarks were discovered by Tay Anderson, head of the Denver school board and the youngest African American elected to office in Colorado history.