This week Darlene and I celebrated the inauguration of Colorado’s new governor, John W. Hickenlooper. We stood in single-digits cold on Tuesday morning for the swearing in on the west steps of the State Capitol. We chowed down at the Fillmore Auditorium on pulled Colorado pork, beef brisket, maple roasted sweet potato salad, green chile skillet bread and other down-home delicacies at the Inaugural Dinner, and we walked down Colfax Avenue to the Ogden Theatre for the Inaugural Concert. It was a happy day here in Colorado.
We both remember the night when Hickenlooper was a guest at a Western States Arts Federation dinner, before he announced his candidacy for mayor in the 2003 campaign. He was a brew pub impresario at the time, but full of optimism and restless purpose. I signed on as a campaign worker and waved signs for Hick at busy intersections, and whatdya know – he won in a crowded field. He was reelected with over 80 percent of the vote, partly on the strength of funny, self-deprecating TV ads. In this ad during the first campaign he tried on Western clothes to see if he could look like a mayor and rode a Vespa to dramatize his promise to do more with less. In the governor’s campaign he did an ad in which he showered with his clothes on, to make the point that he was going to stay away from negative advertising.
The New York Times Magazine captured our new governor’s originality in a well-written profile titled “The John Hickenlooper Exception.” One memorable line referred to him as “a virtuoso goofball.” Smile, when you say that, pardner! The Times piece even raised the possibility, if all goes well as governor, that Hickenlooper might find himself to be just the sort of “unorthodox, boundary-blurring candidate” that both parties might be looking for in the 2016 Presidential Election. Imagine that.