Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper (D) apologized Monday for remarks he made in 2014 comparing elected officials to slaves being whipped aboard an “ancient slave ship.”
The apology from Hickenlooper, who is running for U.S. Senate, came after Tay Anderson, a Denver school board member, circulated a video of his remarks on Twitter.
“Well, once that happens, then the schedulers, who really — if I was to describe a scheduler, a political scheduler, imagine an ancient slave ship,” the video shows Hickenlooper saying at an event, drawing laughs from some in the crowd.
He continued to describe the imaginary scene, making a whipping gesture with his hand as he spoke of “the guy with the whip, and you’re rowing — we elected officials are the ones that are rowing, and they have nothing but hard, often thankless things to do.”
.@Hickenlooper you have some explaining to do. — referencing my ancestors pain of being brought over here in chains to a political scheduler is utterly disgusting. #copolitics #cosen pic.twitter.com/MKKT68LMeu
Anderson, who is the youngest African American ever elected to public office in Colorado, said in a tweet that Hickenlooper has “some explaining to do.”
“Referencing my ancestors pain of being brought over here in chains to a political scheduler is utterly disgusting,” he said. Anderson is supporting Hickenlooper’s rival, former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff, in the June 30 Democratic primary to face Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in the fall.
In a statement, Hickenlooper apologized for the remarks.
“Taking a look at this video from six years ago, I recognize that my comments were painful,” he said in a statement distributed by his campaign, according to the Denver Post. “I did not intend them to be. I offer my deepest apologies.”
The video marks the latest stumble for Hickenlooper. The former two-term governor, who also pursued a short-lived bid for president last year, was fined $2,750 last week by the Independent Ethics Commission. The five-member panel found that Hickenlooper violated a state gift ban in 2018 when he accepted a ride in a Maserati limousine at a conference in Turin, Italy, and traveled on a private jet owned by a home builder to Connecticut for the commissioning of the USS Colorado submarine.
The U.S. Senate seat in Colorado is crucial to Democratic hopes of wresting the majority from Republicans, who hold a 53-to-47 advantage but are playing defense in more seats — 23 — including several in Democratic-leaning and swing states.
Anderson said in a follow-up tweet Monday that Hickenlooper’s apology was insufficient.
“Will @Hickenlooper commit to going through an equity and implicit bias training? — an apology isn’t good enough for me, because it should’ve been common sense not say things like that,” he said.
Jennifer Oldham in Denver contributed to this report.
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