Truth check: Hickenlooper touts his accomplishments as governor in new ads

Truth Check

DENVER (KDVR) — The Truth Check team continues to look at the candidates and their commercials in the 2020 election. Every advertisement that claims something — we will research and determine if the ads are actually telling the truth.

You can watch our previous “Truth Check” segments here and you can read our criteria and standards here.

The latest Truth Check involves the highly competitive race for one of Colorado’s United States Senate seats. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is challenging incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, who’s defending the seat for the first time.

Hickenlooper is touting his accomplishments as governor in this ad. He served as Colorado’s governor from 2011 to 2019. He was Denver’s mayor from 2003 to 2011.

CLAIM #1 

John Hickenlooper served Colorado during tough times

Exact quote in ad: “For years, John Hickenlooper has served his state. Through floods and wildfires, heartbreak and recession.”

Verdict: True

Reason: As governor, Hickenlooper led the state out of the Great Recession, through the Aurora theater shooting and a number of natural disasters. They include the Black Forest fire in El Paso County that destroyed close to 500 homes and the 100-year flood in northern Colorado that killed almost a dozen people and destroyed nearly 1,900 homes.

CLAIM #2

Hickenlooper expanded health care coverage

Exact quote in ad: “He expanded health coverage.”

Verdict: True

Reason: The Affordable Care Act offered states the opportunity to expand Medicaid and create their own health insurance marketplaces. As governor, Hickenlooper supported both ideas and signed the bill to expand Medicaid. About 500,000 Coloradans received healthcare coverage because of the expansion and subsidies to purchase insurance through Connect for Health Colorado, according to a 2017 report from the Colorado Health Institute. After the Medicaid expansion, Colorado’s uninsured rate dropped from 14.3% in 2013 to 6.5% in 2017, the CHI reported. However, while Hickenlooper was governor, health insurance premiums increased up to 30 percent (between 2011 and 2017), according to a report from the Colorado Division of Insurance.

CLAIM #3

Hickenlooper built a booming economy in Colorado

Exact quote in ad: “Built a booming economy.”

Verdict: True

Reason: How much Hickenlooper did to help Colorado’s economy grow can be debated. But this much is true: Colorado’s unemployment rate plummeted, from 8.8 percent to 3.2 percent, while Hickenlooper was in office. During that time, the state eliminated or streamlined 11,000 business regulations. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Colorado had No. 1 economy in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, other publications said Colorado’s economy was good, but not that good. For example, WalletHub ranked the economy as fifth in the U.S.

CLAIM #4

Both Democrats and Republicans praised Hickenlooper

Exact quote in ad: “Won praise from Democrats and Republicans.”

Verdict: True

Reason: Republicans may not necessarily be supporting Hickenlooper in his Senate race, but they praised him while he was governor. Here are two examples: Former Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said on NBC’s Meet The Press on Aug. 27, 2017, “I do believe there is a path toward stabilizing the health…exchanges on health care. I’m working with John Hickenlooper, who’s a terrific guy.” Former Colorado GOP Chair Dick Wadhams told the Denver Post in 2013, “I think Gov. Hickenlooper would be given high marks for how he’s handled these various crises during a short tenure.”

CLAIM #5

Sen. Cory Gardner has been standing with President Donald Trump 100 percent of the time

Exact quote in ad: “Then John Hickenlooper decided to run against Cory Gardner. The barrage of attacks began, because Cory Gardner can’t defend standing with Donald Trump 100 percent of the time.”

Verdict: False

Reason: The president did say that at his rally in Colorado Springs on Feb. 20, 2020. “You’re going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line. He’s been with us 100 percent. There is no waiver,” Trump said. But this week, Gardner – along with most Republicans – disagreed with the president after he tweeted this:

Gardner told the Colorado Sun, “Americans are going to vote on November 3rd, come hell or high water.” When it comes to voting, Gardner has been with the president a lot, but not all the time. Gardner has voted in line with the president’s position 89.1 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Other tracking sites, including United States Political Stats, report that number is closer to 98 percent.

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