When John Hickenlooper, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, finished his Zoom call with Montrose and Delta county residents on Wednesday evening, he acknowledged the uniqueness of the situation.
“I want you to know that this drives me nuts, I’m an extrovert, I love getting out in front of people and I guarantee you as soon as we are allowed to we will come back out to Montrose and to Delta and to Mesa County, we’ll get out there as soon as we can.”
Unable to campaign in person due to physical distancing and shutdown guidelines due to COVID-19, the former Colorado governor is taking a new approach to his campaign, using Zoom, a video conferencing platform, to engage with voters in 64 counties in Colorado.
“It is a little bit different, but I think we’ve done a really good job of shifting our campaign and giving voters opportunities to hear from him directly,” Ammar Moussa said. “It’s unique, and these are unique times, so we’re going to continue to campaign in unique ways.”
Moussa, the press secretary for Hickenlooper, has organized a few meet and greets in several Colorado counties to give residents a chance to meet Hickenlooper and ask him questions.
It’s surely different from your usual campaign, where voters have the opportunity to connect with candidates, share experiences, and feel their energy as they respond to the audience.
But all things considered, Moussa acknowledged the feedback from supporters has been positive, even if it’s different than normal.
“I think you heard it on that call. The women who said, ‘this is really good, this is really helpful, please come do it in my county,” he said. “We’re hearing a lot of really good things. We’re seeing a lot of people watch these. So it’s really a cool unique thing that we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do it as long as we have to until we can come out in person.”
Moussa is referring to Maria Keenan from Mesa County Democrats, who thanked Hickenlooper for doing the Zoom call and asked his party to hold a call for Mesa County.
“Thank you so much for having this, this is very informational for me, and thank you again for what you are doing,” she said.
There were around 30 people on the call with Hickenlooper, with a few asking the Democratic candidate his stance on topics like immigration and health care.
One of those on the call was Kevin Kuns of Montrose, who asked questions on behalf of Montrose and Delta counties.
“I thought it was good,” Kuns said. “Being an extrovert like John, he just needs to get more comfortable in the crazy Zoom world we live in. He seemed nervous at first, and I know he really wasn’t. As the Zoom went on, he did a lot better.”
Kuns mentioned Hickenlooper did well addressing the reality of fracking, his vision on fixing healthcare, and sharing the ability to work across the isle and develop bipartisan teams to come up with strategic plans.
The first question of the evening came from Kuns, who asked Hickenlooper what changed in his desire to run for the U.S Senate after previously stating he had no interest in such a campaign.
“I always was one of those people that looked at Washington as so dysfunctional and such a mess, I thought, why would anyone want to go there?,” Hickenlooper said. “I ran for president for six months, but as I was getting out of that, I sat down with several old friends and some of my neighbors here in Park Hill and they came to me and said, ‘you oughta really think about this again.
“And I said, ‘well, I never really thought about it before, I just think it looks like a mess’. And they said, ‘you know, in many ways our founding fathers intended the Senate to be composed of people that had some success in life’.”
Hickenlooper then went on to touch on his small business ties, an area where he’s experienced much success, and why he would be a good choice on June 30.
“I started calling every other governor I knew who went on to become a senator and asked the basic questions. Can you really make a difference? Can you change the way things are not happening and make the Senate more functional. And would I like it? You’re never going to be good at something if you don’t really like it.
“Every answer I got just made me more enthusiastic and the unique skills that I have might be exactly what the Senate needs. I say that because it’s a different job… this is a very different job but it’s the same skills. The reason I was so successful at building restaurants and successful as a mayor and a governor is because I was a skinny kid when I grew up with thick glasses and acne. I was the one guy that could get everyone to get along, find common ground.
“That’s what I’ve done my whole life, and that’s what’s missing in Washington.”
So far, Hickenlooper’s team has hosted several different zoom calls (16 meet and greets/policy roundtables) with some having a different focus if certain topics are chosen to be addressed on the call. They have done around a dozen expert interviews, and host Takeout Tuesday and Small Business Saturday’s to highlight local businesses.
As they continue to make their way through different counties, the team will reach out to residents in the community who may then invite others in the community to the call.
Moussa noted the team hosts several meet and greets a day, and they look forward to hearing from supporters in different communities through Zoom as they continue to campaign throughout the year.
“We’re going to make do and we’re going to have these awesome opportunities to talk to voters.”