Hickenlooper: Primaries A ‘Worthy Expense,’ Trade Deals Are Good For Colo.

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Photo: Hickenlooper State of State SoS 1.14.16 (AP)
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his annual State of the State address to lawmakers and guests, inside the state legislature, in Denver, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

Colorado would go back to holding a presidential primary under a bill that's expected to be introduced this week, after Democrat and Republican voters complained that caucuses, held in March, left them out of the nominating process.

The idea has Gov. John Hickenlooper's support, even though it might mean the state picks up the cost.

"I think it's a worthy expense for the state to get more people involved in democracy," Hickenlooper said Tuesday in an interview with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner, which also touched on the governor's backing of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

Hickenlooper also discussed his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal among the United States and 11 other countries that Congress still needs to vote on before it's final; and talked about the Colorado Department of Transportation's planned expansion of I-70 in north Denver. The governor also reiterated that, despite opposition from Republican leaders at the Capitol, he still expects lawmakers to vote on his top legislative priority this year: reclassifying a fee that hospitals pay so that it no longer counts towards the taxes the state can collect under TABOR.

On the potential costs of returning Colorado to holding presidential primaries:

"I think it pays for itself if we were one of the early states, which is what people are talking about on both the Republican and Democratic side. Just that notoriety; there'd be, I think, a significant economic impact and some compensation for the state spending money. But yes, even without that, I think it's a worthy expense for the state to get more people involved in democracy."

Hickenlooper on why his judgment matters more than the caucus results in determining who he supports as a superdelegate to the Democratic convention:

"How many people, what 10 percent of the registered Democrats showed up [to the March 1 caucuses]? That's not large enough representation to tell me that I should go against what my instincts are."

On his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

"I looked long-term. The growth of trade has almost always meant more prosperity to both sides. Now, are we in a situation now where that increased wealth, at least on our side, is being concentrated in the pockets of too few people? That may be the case. But I'm not sure the solution is to create trade barriers... I think part of the challenge we have is to do a better job of training individuals whose industries have changed and they've lost out in one way or another."

On what options are available to people whose jobs are lost to international trade deals:

"At this very moment in Colorado, we've got over 20,000 job openings that can't be filled. These are high-paying jobs. And you don't have to be writing code for the Internet. A lot of them you can get in a six month or a nine month training package, you can go and get hired for a job that pays $60,000 a year."

On the planned expansion of I-70 in north Denver:

"I think [the project CDOT is planning] is probably the right solution... My sense is that... the northern alternative [where traffic would be rerouted to I-76 and 270] would require so much additional land to be acquired, and not only would you have a longer route but you would end up having a dramatic increase in costs and really not solve congestion..."