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Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Unseats GOP Incumbent to Win Seat in U.S. Senate

By Laura Fay | November 3, 2020

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, unseated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner Tuesday. (Getty Images)

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner to win a seat in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, NBC News has projected.

A moderate Democrat, Hickenlooper’s victory could help shift the Senate toward the Democratic party.

Hickenlooper has pledged on his campaign site to ensure access to pre-K, provide K-12 schools with resources to safely reopen amid COVID-19, invest in public schools, support apprenticeships and make higher education more affordable.

As governor, he “champion[ed] apprenticeships, internships and certificate programs” and other school reform efforts but saw little change in student achievement, the Denver Post reported. During his first term, he cut education funding.

Hickenlooper spoke at length about school safety at a The 74/Axios event for governors in 2018.

“We are allowing ourselves to be terrorized. If you were someone in a basement in Leningrad and you wanted to hurt America as badly as you could, what better way than to make our children feel that they’re unsafe in school?” he asked.

He panned President Trump’s controversial proposal to allow teachers to carry weapons on school grounds, which was hotly debated at that time, saying most educators think it’s a “terrible idea.” Hickenlooper was governor during the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

He also addressed assessments, saying that they’re necessary, within reason, so people know how schools are doing.

“The challenge here is, when opting out becomes acceptable to parents, then we’re in trouble. We need to reach out and begin that conversation with parents again, to say, ‘Don’t you want to know how your school is doing?’” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper, 68, was the favorite in the race and consistently led in polls. He served two terms as governor and was previously mayor of Denver. He briefly ran for the Democratic nomination for president this cycle.

Colorado’s other senator is Michael Bennet, a Democrat who previously worked as superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Bennet was Hickenlooper’s chief of staff when the latter was mayor of Denver.

Read more about John Hickenlooper:

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

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