John Hickenlooper likes to affect an aw-shucks demeanor, although there are times when his body language reminds me more of the Trivago Guy than a governor. It’s disarming, and plays into his general image as a regular guy, and reinforces people’s impression that he’s a centrist. True or false, that impression is one of his greatest political assets.
Unfortunately, Hickenlooper has a bit of a touchy streak when he’s treated like the politician that he is, and has been for over a decade. That touchiness seems to have trickled down into his campaign. Earlier this year, one of his staffers threatened to have Watchdog.org reporter Arthur Kane arrested when he showed up at a campaign office seeking income tax records that had been released to other media outlets.
And earlier this week, a campaign supporters pushed, blocked, and stalked Ellie Reynolds, a tracker for Revealing Politics. As can be seen in the video below, one of Hickenlooper’s campaign workers, identified as Political Organizer Preston Dickey, follows Reynolds to a nearby coffee shop and then to her car:
Hickenlooper can be seen standing literally a few feet away, either oblivious to or passively approving of the behavior of his supporters. And here I thought we weren’t supposed to push girls around.
These are not isolated incidents. In March of 2013, Evan Ebel, out on parole, shot and killed Tom Clements, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Hickenlooper was obviously deeply affected by the killing. It turned out that Jack Ebel, Evan’s father, was a contributor to Hickenlooper’s campaign. There is absolutely no reason to believe there was any connection between that fact and Evan Ebel’s parole. Nevertheless, Hickenlooper got testy with 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman when Rittiman asked him about it on camera. It’s unpleasant, to say the least, but it’s what reporters do, and Rittiman all but apologized for having to ask the question as part of his job.
I’ve had my own experience with Hickenlooper’s wrath. After I recorded him admitting that Amendment 66 money could go to PERA, I have it on excellent authority that he blew his stack and took it out on a lobbyist who was unconnected to the incident.
The world is full of politicians who have tempers, and some of them can be very effective with them. Lyndon Johnson was known to lose his cool – sometimes even for real, not just for effect – but generally had his way with a friendly Congress. Any number of big city mayors know how to put on a show behind closed doors. Knowing how and when to intimidate enemies and even friends is a valuable tool in an executive’s toolbox. But that generally happens away from the cameras. It isn’t done in public, and it sure doesn’t trickle down to how staffers treat the public.