Presidential Hopeful John Hickenlooper Has a Great Name — and Ties to Philly

Hickenlooper may not be as well-known as a certain former vice president from Scranton, but the onetime Colorado governor and Narberth native is the first candidate with Pennsylvania roots to formally announce his candidacy.


john hickenlooper president

John Hickenlooper, the newest Democratic candidate for president. Photo via YouTube.

Any marketing expert will tell you that one of the keys to successful branding is having a unique name. Former Colorado governor and newly declared presidential candidate John Hickenlooper has that quality in spades — many, many spades. And in the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, anything that helps you stand out is valuable.

Hickenloooper, a 67-year-old who once owned a craft brewpub before serving his two terms as governor, officially made his declaration on Monday with a campaign video that referenced, by his own admission, his “funny last name.”

But the name isn’t the only reason you should keep Hickenlooper on your radar. He grew up on the Main Line in Narberth and attended the Haverford School. Apparently, he’s a Phillies fan. (Maybe the Bryce Harper signing is what emboldened Hickenlooper to throw his own proverbial chips on the table and announce his run.)

Hickenlooper doesn’t boast an especially well-known platform, unlike fellow presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. But he did sign a bill legalizing marijuana during his term as governor — and that, along with the Phillies fandom and Main Line credentials, was enough to get at least a few folks in the area talking about his candidacy.

Predictably, there were also many comments about his name.

For the moment, Hickenlooper’s the only declared candidate with Philly ties — and ones that are, admittedly, tenuous at best. But there are other Pennsylvania folks who could look to seek the highest office in the land — chief among them, a certain former vice president from Scranton. And don’t sleep on Philly venture capitalist Richard Vague, either.

Hickenlooper’s got a head start on them, and so far, he appears to be channeling a Beto O’Rourke-style folksy vibe.

But does he actually have a real shot? On Monday, a FiveThirtyEight piece posed that question and didn’t inspire much cause for optimism. Even with that vaunted name of his, only 22 percent of Democrats had an opinion of the man, per a recent study. And in way-too-early polling tabulations, Hickenlooper’s looping along at between zero and 1 percent.

But it’s still early! And if we learned any lessons from 2016, it’s that last names do matter — and someone who starts out on the margins can end up being the last person standing.