Ex-U.S. presidential candidates Hickenlooper, Inslee to run for office in home states

By Joseph Ax and Doina Chiacu | Thu, August 22, 2019 12:53 EDT

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Democratic governors who recently abandoned their long-shot presidential bids announced their next steps on Thursday, with both opting to run for office in the friendlier political territory of their home states.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race last week, said he would run for a Senate seat instead. Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who ended his White House campaign on Wednesday, announced he would seek a third four-year term next year.

Hickenlooper, 67, who remains popular in Colorado, had been urged by numerous Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to challenge incumbent Cory Gardner, widely seen as perhaps the most vulnerable Republican senator in 2020.

"I'm running to give Colorado's priorities and values a voice in Washington," Hickenlooper said on his website. "Right now, we're represented by a senator who works to undo our progress by voting 99% of the time with Donald Trump and going along with (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell's obstruction and partisan political games."

Republicans hold 53 of the Senate's 100 seats, and Democrats must capture Gardner's spot to have any hope of retaking the chamber next year.

In his announcement on Thursday, Inslee said his state had provided a "road map" for the rest of the country by raising the minimum wage, expanding healthcare and tackling the climate crisis, the signature issue of his presidential campaign.

"I want to continue to stand with you in opposing Donald Trump and rejecting his hurtful and divisive agenda, while strengthening and enhancing Washington state's role as a progressive beacon for the nation," he said in an email to supporters.

Hickenlooper and Inslee were among several Democrats in a large 2020 field who struggled with low opinion poll numbers and faced calls to run instead in other competitive races.

Their departure leaves 22 Democrats still seeking the nomination, including seven U.S. senators. Steve Bullock of Montana is the only governor left in the race.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Joseph Ax; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)

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