Ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, co-founder of Omaha’s Upstream, is running for president

Ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, co-founder of Omaha’s Upstream, is running for president
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DENVER — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former co-owner of an Omaha brewery and restaurant, said Monday that he’s running for president, casting himself as someone who has accomplished liberal goals in a politically divided state.

“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper, 67, said in a video announcing his campaign. “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.”

He said his record as a former governor and big-city mayor distinguishes him from other Democratic presidential aspirants in the sprawling field.

Hickenlooper has hedged on supporting Democratic rallying cries like “Medicare for all” and the Green New Deal to combat climate change.

He once worked as a geologist for a petroleum company and defended the safety of fracking.

After Hickenlooper was laid off from his geologist position during the energy bust of the 1980s, he opened a brewpub in a then-desolate stretch of downtown Denver that unexpectedly took off. That enabled Hickenlooper to become wealthy by helping to build a chain of restaurants and bars, including Omaha’s Upstream Brewing Company.

In 1995, when Upstream was opening in downtown Omaha, Hickenlooper told The World-Herald: “The Old Market area in Omaha is one of the most beautiful historic neighborhoods in the country. We want to maintain that while adding to it.”

His business success led to him making a run for Denver mayor in 2003. He won and ultimately brought together dozens of suburban cities, some led by Republicans, to back a tax hike to fund a light-rail network.

The 2012 Aurora theater shooting, which left 12 people dead, happened during his first term as governor. Months later, Hickenlooper called for and signed bills requiring universal background checks and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds.