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Views on Israel of U.S. Presidential Candidates 2020:
John Hickenlooper

(1952 - )

John Hickenlooper* was born February 7, 1952, in Narberth, Pennsylvania. He is the son of Anne Doughten (née Morris) Kennedy and John Wright Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper was raised by his mother from a young age after his father’s death.

Hickenlooper’s mother’s family were practicing Quakers. He spent a summer in his teens volunteering with the American Friends Service Committee in Maine. In 2010, Hickenlooper told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he and his wife attend Quaker meetings and try to live by Quaker values, but he said in a 2018 speech to the Economic Club of Chicago, that he is not a Quaker.

A 1970 graduate of The Haverford School, an independent boys school in Haverford, Pennsylvania, he went on to attend Wesleyan University, where he received a B.A. in English in 1974, and a master’s degree in geology in 1980.

Hickenlooper moved to Colorado in 1981 to pursue a career in geology and was hired by Buckhorn Petroleum. He lost his job in 1986 when the company was sold. After being out of work for two years, Hickenlooper decided to start his own business and opened the Wynkoop Brewing Company brewpub in 1988. The Wynkoop was one of the first brewpubs in the United States and his company later opened 15 brewpubs and restaurants. Hickenlooper sold his stake in the Wynkoop in 2007 to a group of managers and employees for a reported $7 million.

In 2003, Hickenlooper was elected the 43rd mayor of Denver. After incumbent governor Bill Ritter announced that he would not seek reelection, Hickenlooper ran and won the election in 2010. He was reelected governor in 2014.

In 2012, he was elected to serve as vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association and he chaired the National Governors’ Association from July 2014 to July 2015.

Hickenlooper built strong ties with the Jewish community and Israel during his time in office.

Constitutionally limited to two consecutive terms, Hickenlooper could not run for governor in 2018 and announced on March 4, 2019, he would seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 He withdrew from the race on August 15, 2019. 

Hickenlooper’s first marriage ended in divorce. He married Robin Pringle in 2016.


  • Israel’s right to exist is not a subject to be debate. “That is why I also reject boycotts, disinvestments or sanctions in any way…” (Comments to American Jewish Committee, June 3, 2019)
  • Hickenlooper said he would reaffirm the country’s commitment to the NATO alliance, revive arms control talks with China and Russia and reject boycotts, divestment or sanctions on Israel. (Reuters, May 20, 2019)
  • In 2016, Hickenlooper signed a bipartisan bill requiring the state’s retirement program to divest from companies that boycott Israel. (JTA, March 5, 2019)


  • Asked by the New York Times, “Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?” Hickenlooper responded, “When you’re addressing the issues around Israel, one has to look at their evolution. For me, they’re at a point now where they are at a crossroads and really have to push towards how are they going to get to that two-state solution. Which, pretty much almost every Israeli I know believes in, and I think most Americans support that. But the magic is how are they going to get from here to there.”

    “Again, there are instances when you can find in almost every country places where there is disagreement for how they treat people or how they resolve internal conflicts. I continue to look at Israel as one of our strongest allies, they have been partners with the United States for a long time. Our challenge is to build on that foundation and help them be able to move towards that two-state solution that, which again, I think almost every Israeli believes is the ultimate goal.” (New York Times, June 19, 2019)

  • “I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as our strongest ally in the Middle East… We do not have to agree with every action of the Israeli government…”

    “Let me conclude by saying that Israel is an emotive topic for many people and one that inspires great passions. It will inspire great passions in this presidential campaign. My view is clear, like many close personal relationships we can argue, we can agree, we can disagree, we can laugh and cry and celebrate together, but at the end of the day, our relationship with Israel should remain unquestionable, close and strong, and as president, I will make sure of that.” (Comments to American Jewish Committee, June 3, 2019)

  • I’ve, you know, gone out on over a dozen economic development trips, built relationships with leaders around the world. In places like Israel we’ve had a partnership that addresses terrorism, water conservation, cyber security. (ABC News, May 19, 2019)

  • “The random rocket fire by Hamas into Israel must stop,” he said in May 2019. “My heart goes out to the families of the Israelis killed, and those wounded in these grievous attacks. I call on all parties to show restraint and de-escalate this situation immediately.” (JTA, May 6, 2019)

  • In 2015, two years after that initial Israel visit, Hickenlooper led a trip there to encourage business ties between the country and his state, notably in the recreational and medical marijuana industry. “You guys have some of the top resources in the world on some of these effects, and we have resource money now, so we are looking for partners,” he told the Jerusalem Post.

    In 2013, Hickenlooper made his first trip to Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said his visit to Yad Vashem was “the most transformative museum experience I’ve ever had in my life.” Overall, he said traveling to Israel was “the most remarkable seven-day trip of my life, without question.” (JTA, March 5, 2019)


*AICE does not rate or endorse any candidate for political office.

Sources:  “John Hickenlooper,” Wikipedia;
Hickenlooper 2020“;
“Gov. John Hickenlooper,” National Governor’s Association;
Josefin Dolsten, “5 Jewish things to know about John Hickenlooper,” JTA, (March 5, 2019);
Ron Kampeas, “4 Democratic Presidential Candidates Weighed In On The Gaza Violence,” JTA, (May 6, 2019);
“White House does not need a 'strongman,' Hickenlooper says in 2020 policy speech,” Reuters, (May 20, 2019);
Comments to American Jewish Committee, (June 3, 2019);
“18 Questions. 21 Democrats. Here’s What They Said,” New York Times, (June 19, 2019).