Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the USA Convention of Mayors winter assembly in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
‘Pleasuring the pigs,’ climbing taxes, Moonlighting scripts, and the long-lost son of Kurt Vonnegut.
One: Andrew Hickenlooper, the great-grandfather of former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, was a common within the Union Military in the course of the Civil Warfare. He fought on the Battle of Shiloh, within the Vicksburg marketing campaign, within the Atlanta marketing campaign, and as a part of Basic Sherman’s March to the Sea. In 1879, he was elected lieutenant governor of Ohio. Andrew Hickenlooper’s son, Smith Hickenlooper, fought in World Conflict I and was a federal decide for ten years.
Two: Hickenlooper’s father, additionally named John however often referred to as by his nickname “Hick,” labored for greater than a thousand consecutive days on an meeting line on the Wright aeronautical plant in Lockland, Ohio, throughout World Struggle II. He went to Cornell and befriended writer Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut turned pals with the youthful John Hickenlooper, and for a 2004 roast of the then-mayor of Denver, the well-known writer declared in a joke video that he was Hickenlooper’s actual father.
Three: Hickenlooper’s father handed away at age 40, from intestinal most cancers. The youthful John Hickenlooper grew up and was accepted to Wesleyan College. On the finish of his junior yr, he went house and made plans with a good friend to see a specific much-discussed film. He arrived again at his home to seek out that his mom, Anne, had ready an enormous dinner. Feeling responsible after failing to understand her efforts, Hickenlooper invited his mom to hitch him and his good friend on the films that night time.
The film they attended . . . was the X-rated Deep Throat.
Hickenlooper described the night time in a 2016 interview: “I imply, the primary scene was kinda raunchy. I checked out my mom, and I stated, ‘I feel we should always depart.’ My mother says — you understand, my mother grew up within the Melancholy. As soon as she paid for a ticket, she was gonna use it — ‘No, no. It’s okay. It’s okay.’” He stated that on the experience residence she declared, “It definitely was sharply in focus.”
4: Hickenlooper completed his grasp’s diploma in geology in 1980 — a interval of life he calls “that decade I spent in school” in his autobiography, The Reverse of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics. Whereas courting an anthropology grad scholar who was learning South American witchcraft and “traveled nearly in all places with a small inexperienced and purple parrot on her shoulder,” he attended a celebration thrown by her mother and father and frolicked with Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s spouse.
5: Hickenlooper is a unusual man of strange habits. He moved to Colorado to take a job with Buckhorn Petroleum, the place he was disillusioned to seek out he spent 90 % of his time “at a desk, poring over maps ready by different geologists.” He wrote that in this time he “acquired into the behavior of photocopying my correspondence earlier than mailing it off. I figured if I stored an archive of the letters I despatched, I might have them for reference once I acquired letters in response. This was lengthy earlier than e-mail; now, we take data of ‘sends’ and ‘receives’ as a right. For those who ask me, I used to be forward of my time. I wrote letters and photocopied them this manner for my first decade in Denver.”
Six: Upon being laid off in 1986, Hickenlooper had a yr’s severance and purchased a 1967 pink Chevy Malibu convertible for $four,200. He drove out to go to his brother Sydney in Berkeley, Calif. His brother took him to the Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, and the longer term governor immediately fell in love with brewing. “I assumed to myself, I might have pushed twenty minutes out of my approach with out considering twice about it to have a beer or two like this,” he wrote in his autobiography. He and his companions have been turned down by banks and different lenders 32 occasions, however the metropolis of Denver gave him a $125,000 economic-development mortgage at 9 % curiosity.
Seven: Round this time, after encouragement from a pal in Hollywood, Hickenlooper wrote a “spec script” — an unsolicited submitted screenplay — for ABC’s collection Moonlighting. He was informed the producers appreciated it, nevertheless it was by no means used. Years later, Hickenlooper did find yourself in Hollywood, in a unique type. His cousin George Hickenlooper turned a reasonably profitable director, creating Dogtown, The Man From Elysian Fields, On line casino Jack (starring Kevin Spacey because the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff), and an Emmy-winning documentary concerning the making of Apocalypse Now. The governor had a number of small cameos in Hickenlooper’s movies, making him a member of the Display Actors Guild; George Hickenlooper handed away in 2010.
Eight: In 1989, Hickenlooper was arrested for driving whereas impaired. He was sentenced to group service, and at his brewpub restaurant, they instituted a designated-driver program. As governor, he signed a regulation toughening the penalties for driving whereas intoxicated, signing the invoice at a ceremony held on the headquarters of a breathalyzer producer.
9: One night time at his brewery, Hickenlooper, then 42, was being teased by associates for being too busy to discover a spouse. He stated — he insists, jokingly — he would pay $5,000 to the pal who launched him to the lady he would marry, a “bride bounty.” The Denver media picked it up and Hickenlooper ended up on The Phil Donahue Present. The host launched him as a consultant of a gaggle of people that “consider it’s very troublesome to seek out the person or ladies of your goals, particularly these days, in order that they’re prepared to supply massive bucks to the one that introduces them to the individual they subsequently marry.” Hickenlooper married twice after that look; he married Helen Thorpe in 2002 and divorced in 2015, and married Robin Pringle in 2016. After his first engagement, he donated $5,000 to charity, to honor the “bounty.”
Ten: To have fun the second anniversary of his brewpub and restaurant, Hickenlooper hosted a pig roast. The next yr, he borrowed one other half-dozen pigs and staged a “Operating of the Pigs” in an alley behind the restaurant, a sillier, much less harmful model of Pamplona’s operating of the bulls. He did this as an annual occasion for 3 years. When animal-rights activists complained, he put bonnets on the pigs to maintain the solar out of their eyes. Once they complained additional, he renamed it the “Pleasuring of the Pigs” and promised that all the animals can be handled with tender loving care. When the activists nonetheless complained, Hickenlooper switched to prairie canine and referred to as it “Prairie Preservation Day.”
Eleven: Hickenlooper’s first steps into public life got here in 2000, when the house owners of the NFL’s Denver Broncos have been constructing a brand new stadium subsequent to Mile Excessive Stadium, their house since 1962. Voters had accepted a small gross sales tax two years earlier to finance the brand new stadium, after which the query arose of what the brand new stadium ought to be referred to as. Hickenlooper led the general public struggle towards a reputation change, adamant that the brand new stadium ought to maintain the “Mile Excessive” moniker related to the town and objected to promoting the naming rights to an enormous firm.
The staff organized for an unwieldly compromise, “Invesco Area at Mile Excessive,” after which “Sports activities Authority Subject at Mile Excessive.” It’s immediately referred to as “Broncos Stadium at Mile Excessive.”
Ten: About two years after the stadium naming-rights struggle, Hickenlooper determined to run for mayor. He employed the agency behind Jesse Ventura’s unorthodox gubernatorial marketing campaign and advertisements, starting a political profession pushed largely by humorous commercials. His introductory advert, “Go well with,” made enjoyable of himself for not having a mayor-worthy wardrobe. He concluded with the conservative declaration, “We have now to seek out methods to get the job finished for much less cash.” One other advert confirmed him making change for Denver residents who wanted to feed parking meters — meters he referred to as “the elemental nonsense of presidency.” Hickenlooper moved faster than an overweight, villainous parking-enforcement attendant and promised . . . “the type of change individuals can get enthusiastic about.” Hickenlooper’s different marketing campaign themes — openness to high school vouchers, opposition to new taxes, and opposition to a smoking ban in eating places — struck conservative notes.
The sector had seven candidates, all formally “nonpartisan,” in a race that acquired nationwide protection as “a mannequin of civility.” Some protection joked that the town’s reporters already knew him nicely from having fun with beers at his brewpub.
Eleven: As mayor, Hickenlooper appeared to crack the code on learn how to increase taxes, revealing that sufficiently entertaining advertisements with goofy humor might transfer a small majority of voters to vote sure on tax-levy referendums. In 2005, Hickenlooper jumped out of a aircraft to advertise a state referendum that would scale back state-tax refunds and droop the Taxpayer’s Invoice of Rights, which had handed in 1992. The referendum handed, 52 to 48 %. In one other business that very same yr, he placed on a blue bear go well with and danced round to efficiently promote a referendum to extend taxes on lodge rooms.
Jon Caldara, the president of the Independence Institute, a free-market advocacy group in Colorado, advised the New York Occasions that “he has tax-increase pixie mud. No politician that I’ve ever labored towards has been so profitable in promoting tax and debt will increase as John Hickenlooper.”
Twelve: One of many highlights of Hickenlooper’s mayoral years was Denver’s internet hosting of the 2008 Democratic Nationwide Conference, a chance to highlight the town’s thriving arts scene, growing variety, and revitalized neighborhoods with tens of hundreds of tourists and media on the town. However there was one preparation for guests that fell flat. On the previous Earth Day, Hickenlooper had “unveiled a newly cultivated daisy selection referred to as the Denver daisy. He promised to distribute free seeds all through the town and vowed that Denver can be ‘awash in colour.’” (A company sponsor, KeyBank, coated the prices of the seeds.) Sadly, many voters stated they couldn’t get the flowers to develop; in a little bit of irony, the blooming ambitions might have been stymied by the town’s water-conservation restrictions.
13: Whereas introducing the hip-hop/rock band Flobots at a 2010 Denver music pageant, then-mayor Hickenlooper waxed poetic concerning the pleasure of music with a message: “There’s rock and roll, after which there’s rock and roll. There’s rock and roll that’s nice music and there’s rock and roll that tries to vary the world. It tries to deal with who you’re as individuals, on the core of your self, and what you do after you allow a live performance. It tries to make the world a greater place. That sort of rock and roll is my type of rock and roll, and I feel that sort of rock and roll is your type of rock and roll!”
Fourteen: In 2010, Hickenlooper ran for governor, and whereas Republicans have been having fun with huge wins in most elements of the nation, the Colorado GOP was a catastrophe that yr. Longtime Republican congressman Scott McInnis, the anticipated favourite for the gubernatorial nomination, confronted accusations of plagiarism. Political neophyte Dan Maes gained the nomination, and he was accused of exaggerating his “undercover” work with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. He additionally contended that the Denver program selling bicycle-riding was “a part of a higher technique to rein in American cities beneath a United Nations treaty.” One other longtime GOP congressman, Tom Tancredo, selected to run because the Structure Get together’s nominee, splitting the right-of-center vote. Kenneth Bickers, chairman of the political-science division on the College of Colorado Boulder, characterised Hickenlooper’s first statewide bid as “profitable with out operating.” “He didn’t journey the state closely. He ran feel-good, intelligent commercials largely devoid of content material.”
Persevering with his custom of goofy advertisements, Hickenlooper depicted himself as taking showers absolutely clothed, declaring, “I can’t stand adverse advertisements. Each time I see one, I really feel the necessity to take a bathe.”
Fifteen: Hickenlooper was extensively seen as a fan and shut ally of President Obama’s, however he did supply one delicate criticism of the 44th president. In a 2011 interview with the New York Occasions, Hickenlooper stated the early push for Obamacare had been a mistake: “Relatively than going to well being care first, I might have gone, I feel, to transportation infrastructure. Right here’s one thing everyone cares about. Perhaps we concentrate on that to construct bridges.”
Sixteen: For a very long time, Hickenlooper’s blunt speak, humorous humility, and amiable angle labored wonders in Colorado politics. However he bumped into hassle as his gubernatorial reelection bid approached. In 2013, within the aftermath of the Sandy Hook capturing, Hickenlooper signed a package deal of gun-control measures, together with private-sale background checks and a ban on large-capacity magazines and. The next yr, whereas assembly with the county sheriffs of Colorado at their biannual assembly, Hickenlooper stated he had signed a regulation barring high-capacity magazines solely as a result of certainly one of his staffers had promised legislators he would. “If we’d recognized it was going to divide the state so intensely, I feel we in all probability would’ve considered it twice.”
Hickenlooper, expressing remorse he hadn’t mentioned the measures with the sheriffs earlier than signing them, declared, “I feel we screwed that up utterly, and I feel we did a disservice to you and a disservice to ourselves.”
Neither aspect was happy; gun-control advocates noticed the governor operating away from a invoice he signed into regulation, and Second Modification advocates noticed a person signing payments into regulation with out cautious consideration. Hickenlooper gained his 2014 bid, however by a a lot smaller margin — 49.three % to Bob Beauprez’s 46 %, in comparison with the margin of 51.1 % to 36.four % over Tom Tancredo 4 years earlier.
Seventeen: Hickenlooper’s years as governor have been an financial growth time for his state, however the speedy progress introduced some new issues. The Denver Publish summarized them: “As Hickenlooper prepares to go away workplace January eight, there are many Coloradans who can’t sustain with the price of dwelling. The state has no long-term transportation or infrastructure technique. Funding for the state’s public faculties continues to be among the many lowest within the nation.” Greater than 93 % of Coloradans have medical insurance, however the prices are hovering. Colorado noticed its financial system thrive for the previous eight years, like most different states; most would agree that the governor’s affect over that booming financial system was restricted.
For a governor who enjoys a fame for being a centrist, he signed a variety of liberal priorities into regulation: the gun-control proposals talked about above, renewable-energy necessities, new necessities that power corporations commonly examine oil-field gear for leaks, in-state tuition charges for unlawful immigrants, and permitting unlawful immigrants to get Colorado driver’s licenses.
Eighteen: He opposed legalizing marijuana however accepted the voters’ determination, and his administration carried out the taxes, laws, and guidelines. In 2018, Hickenlooper observed that crime charges have been growing and the black marketplace for marijuana nonetheless existed. He stated a return to the previous ban on marijuana might be an choice sooner or later. “Belief me, if the info was coming again and we noticed spikes in violent crime, we noticed spikes in general crime, there can be lots of people in search of that bottle and determining how we get the genie again in,” he stated. “It doesn’t appear more likely to me, however I’m not ruling it out.”
Nineteen: Hickenlooper is dyslexic and suffers from prosopagnosia, or face blindness, a medical situation “that makes it troublesome — and sometimes unattainable — to acknowledge or keep in mind individuals’s faces, even when somebody with the ailment has met them a handful of occasions.” He says he coped within the restaurant enterprise and politics by appearing completely happy to see everybody on a regular basis.
Twenty: A state ethics fee is reviewing complaints from Frank McNulty, former Republican speaker of the Colorado Home, alleging that whereas Hickenlooper was governor he accepted presents in violation of a 2006 state constitutional modification. The grievance listed personal jet flights, lodge stays, luxurious lodge lodging, meals and presents, and journey in a Maserati limousine. Hickenlooper says that each one of his journey expenditures have been correctly reported and met state authorized necessities and that the criticism is a political stunt. The state ethics fee dismissed three complaints raised by McNulty however is reviewing 5 others.