Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will run for U.S. Senate in his home state, according to The New York Times. But that's not stopping diplomat Dan Baer's quest of becoming the first gay man elected to the chamber.
Baer in April announced his plans to challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Garder. And while national Democrats have pushed Hicklooper as a strong candidate to upset Gardner, Baer won't leave the race quietly.
"There are new voices ready to lead across our state and in the U.S. Senate, voices who understand that there is no back to normal, there's only forward to normal," Baer told The Advocate.
"That's why I was running yesterday, and that's why I'll be running tomorrow."
But the path to the general election just got a little rougher. Hickenlooper, who officially ended a middling presidential campaign last week, now steps into the Senate contest where he is considered a Democratic front-runner.
In a campaign video titled "Not Done Fighting," he set his sights immediately on the Republican incumbent. "I don't think Cory Gardner understands that the games he's playing with Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are hurting the people of Colorado," Hickenlooper said.
But that ignores a Democratic primary that was already under way in Colorado with several candidates before Hickenlooper's arrival.
Polls show Baer has a long way to go in the race. A Keating Research poll shows 88 percent of voters still unfamiliar with the former U.S. ambassador. The same poll showed him with at 2 percent in a six-person primary, with Secretary of State Jena Griswold leading the field with 15 percent.
Hickenlooper, who previously hired Baer as executive director of Colorado's Department of Education, changes the nature of the race tremendously. The same poll shows the ex-governor with a 50-percentage-point lead over all other Democrats.
Baer said he's ready to take on his old boss in the primary. After Hickenlooper's announcement, Baer this morning retweeted a post from when he announced in April, adding the comment "Seems like a good day to re-up this."
But he also made clear he wanted a friendly fight among Democrats before a nominee takes on Gardner in 2020. Posting a picture of himself on horseback, he made clear he's prepared for the trail
"Shall we settle this at a rodeo
@Hickenlooper? First [beer] is on me. Giddy up!"