Gov. Hickenlooper Weighs In On Fate Of Embattled Democratic Lawmaker

Originally published on October 12, 2018 4:24 pm

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper weighed in Friday on the future of an embattled Democratic lawmaker, along with some other hot topics at an impromptu press conference at the State Capitol.

Hickenlooper declined to say whether State Rep. Jovan Melton should resign after it was reported the Aurora Democrat has been arrested twice in the last two decades on domestic violence related charges.

Melton is denying he has ever been physically violent with women. Some Democratic party leaders are urging Melton to resign, while others are coming to his defense.

"I think we rush to judgement, and there is a benefit to taking some time and sorting through this and thinking about it," Hickenlooper said. "When something comes up that rubs someone the wrong way (…) on both sides, it's a better policy to slow down."

Hickenlooper started his comments on Melton by saying the public and elected officials have a responsibility to listen to women who come forward with allegations of assault. But the governor said in Melton's case he "wasn't aware enough of the facts that went on."

Hickenlooper added he did not see the Thursday press conference where some of Melton's fellow Democrats and leaders in the African-American community came to his defense.

At that press conference, Bishop Acen Phillips compared the calls for Melton's resignation to a "21st century lynching of a black man."

Hickenlooper's comments on Friday set him apart from the Democratic gubernatorial candidate running to replace him. Earlier this week, Jared Polis said he agreed with Democratic leaders who were telling Melton he should consider resigning.

Tax returns

Hickenlooper, who said he released 23 years' worth of his tax returns when he ran for Denver mayor, was asked if he thought the gubernatorial candidates who are currently running to replace him should release their own returns.

The governor demurred.

"I don' think it's my job to opine on every subject," he said. "I don't have to go out and tell my opinion to the world every day so you guys can drive news sales."

Presidential run

Fresh off a visit with the Republican governor of Ohio, Hickenlooper insisted he has no plans to form a bipartisan presidential ticket with John Kasich.

The two governors have crossed the partisan divide and worked together on the issue of healthcare, leading to speculation they might try to run together for president.

"I'm never going to run with John Kasich," Hickenlooper said. "I like the guy. He's been in public service almost his entire life. We may not run for president together, but hopefully we do some good things together."

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

Copyright 2018 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.