DENVER – “I’m John Hickenlooper and I’m out to make change in Denver.”
To some degree that is how Governor John Hickenlooper’s political career began – in a campaign commercial for mayor more than 16 years ago.
Hickenlooper sat down with FOX31 recently to reflect on his past 8 years in the Governor’s office – including the first person who called him to run for Governor.
Governor Elect Jared Polis will officially be sworn in on Tuesday.
“The first person to call me was Joe Biden and say you got to run for Governor,” Hickenlooper told FOX31 Political Reporter Joe St. George.
As far as his legacy?
“I think we have several legacies-one is when I came in we were 40th of all the states in job creation now we have the number one economy in the country,” Hickenlooper said.
But you can’t talk about Hickenlooper’s legacy without the tragedies – the mass shootings and natural disasters like the Boulder floods.
“In my first four years we had wildfires, droughts, worst floods in history. Shooting in Aurora Hickenlooper said.
“Those images are edged in acid on my brain,” Hickenlooper said, commenting on the Aurora shooting.
“I went to over 60 funerals that first four years including Tom Clemens Department of Corrections Director,” Hickenlooper said.
“After the shooting in Aurora the first thing we did was come in and lobby was $30 milllion a more per year for mental health,” Hickenlooper said.
And you can’t forget about the election of 2012 when marijuana was legalized by voters.
Hickenlooper was on the wrong side of voters, and to some degree still has reservations.
“I opposed it because no one had ever done it – even Amsterdam never legalized it they just decriminalized it,” Hickenlooper said.
“No one had created rules, regulations, and tax rates,” Hickenlooper said.
“Do you fully embrace it now?” Hickenlooper said.
“No I fully held off because I think we need more data,” Hickenlooper sad.
“When people tell me other Governor’s should do this I would say hold off a couple years,” Hickenlooper added.
Hickenlooper’s biggest criticism in office was perhaps the temporary stay of execution for Nathan Dunlap and his execution.
Hickenlooper’s order called for a temporary reprieve – which allows for other Governors to execute him.
“Why couldn’t you make a decision?” St. George asked.
“I did make a decision, I made the decision I would be most criticized by,” Hickenlooper said.
“I went into this job an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth makes sense – it doesn’t,” Hickenlooper said.
The public service coming at price though. In 2012 Hickenlooper and his wife Helen Thorpe announced they were divorcing.
“Getting divorced was the toughest thing I have ever been through,” Hickenlooper said.
“She hated being First Lady and she hated when I came home at night there were phone calls I had to make,” Hickenlooper said.
Since then Hickenlooper has been remarried, marrying Robin Pringle in 2016.
Pringle, Hickenloooer has said, will be instrumentally in determining what this Former Mayor and now Former Governor does next.
Could he run for President?
“We are working on it – I think we will make a decision by the end of February,” Hickenlooper said.