Reid Wilson --- The Washington Post
If there is a ribbon to cut anywhere in the state of Colorado, whether on a refurbished park or a new bridge or a new school, chances are good that Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) will be there. Democrats and Republicans alike in this swing state say he acts like a mayor as much as a governor, showing up at every opportunity to congratulate a town or city on their latest project. After two terms leading Denver, he knows how to be a mayor.
Hickenlooper has carefully crafted his image as a non-partisan technocrat, above the fray of negativity that permeates politics. In his first campaign, he pledged not to run any negative advertisements — in one of his first paid ads, he told voters those negative spots made him feel dirty, so he took a shower in a business suit.
But amid one of the most bitterly polarized elections in recent memory, Hickenlooper’s allies have watched the governor’s sheen come off. The former mayor who wants everyone to feel good about themselves is having difficulty operating in an atmosphere of partisan venom. And, allies and opponents alike say, a series of missteps and bouts of seeming indecision have sent Hickenlooper’s approval and favorability ratings plummeting, with recent polls showing him neck and neck with his opponent, former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R).
Last week, two new surveys demonstrated the challenge Hickenlooper faces: A Quinnipiac University poll showed Beauprez leading by a shocking 10 points. A Suffolk University poll, conducted for USA Today, showed Hickenlooper leading by a statistically insignificant 43 percent to 41 percent. Almost every political observer, even the most rabidly partisan, dismiss the Quinnipiac survey, but they believe the Suffolk poll showing a virtually tied race.
How did a governor who strove to maintain good relationships across the aisle while presiding over a rebounding economy get in so much trouble?
Colorado political experts, including several close to the governor himself, say the issue has been Hickenlooper’s difficulty showing decisive leadership, especially on a few high-profile issues.