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Who is John Hickenlooper? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate
Julianna Rennie
By Julianna Rennie June 25, 2019

Editor's note: This story is part of PolitiFact’s ongoing coverage of the 2020 campaign; these reports will be updated as the campaign continues. For more candidate profiles and fact-checking, go to

In a crowded primary field that’s pushing the Democratic party farther to the left, John Hickenlooper has branded himself as an "extreme moderate."

"I think there is a new silent majority that wants to elect people that get stuff done, stop fighting, stop hurling invective and roll up their sleeves and start working together,"Hickenlooper told CNN in January 2019.  A former two-term governor of Colorado and mayor of Denver, his key issues were universal health care, business-friendly economic reform, climate change action, and stricter gun control laws.

After Hickenlooper was elected mayor, he eliminated Denver’s $70 million budget deficit and established a mass-transit plan that added 119 miles of rail tracks. As governor, he brought together environmentalists and oil and gas companies to curb methane gas emissions — a key contributor to climate change. (But unlike many Democrats, the former geologist supports fracking and wrote an op-ed denouncing the Green New Deal.) In the wake of a mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater, he passed universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Hickenlooper expanded Medicaid and started a state health insurance exchange to cover nearly 95% of Coloradans. Though Hickenlooper hopes to achieve universal health care coverage nationwide, he opposes Medicare for All. "There are over 150 million Americans who have some form of private insurance through their business, and the vast majority of them are happy with it," he explained on MSNBC’s The Last Word.

Hickenlooper’s middle-of-the-road stances have garnered criticism that he tries to appease everyone. But he prides himself on his ability to compromise and avoid taking extreme positions. He’s also known for refusing to run attack ads — he even filmed himself showering while fully dressed to show that negative campaigns make him feel dirty.

Name: John Hickenlooper

Current occupation: Candidate for president

Party: Democratic Party

Federal offices: None

Key positions: Opposed creating a state single-payer health care system, started an apprenticeship and workforce skills program, brokered first-of-its-kind regulation on methane emissions, opposed anti-fracking ballot initiative, passed stricter state gun control laws, initially opposed marijuana legalization

State and local offices: Colorado governor, 2011-2019. Denver mayor, 2003-2011

Private sector work: Cofounder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company, geologist for Buckhorn Petroleum

Military: none

Books authored: "The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics," with Maximillian Potter, 2016

Education: B.A. in English, Wesleyan University, 1974. M.S. in geology, Wesleyan University, 1980.

Birth date: February 7, 1952

Personal life: Spouse is Robin Pringle, one child

Religion: Episcopalian

Top issues: health care, economy, climate change, gun control

Miscellaneous: With an approval rating of 92%, Time Magazine named him one of the five best big-city mayors in 2005. His Twitter profile says he is an "occasional banjo player."

Other coverage: Interview on Meet the Press, March 2019; cover profile in Politico, March 2019; interview on The Last Word, March 2019; profile in The Atlantic, September 2018; CNN on rumored Kasich-Hickenlooper unity ticket, August 2017

Campaign website:

This report will be updated as the campaign continues.


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Who is John Hickenlooper? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate