BREAKING: CO-GOV: Hickenlooper In

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) announced today that he will run for Governor:

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, will run for governor of Colorado, Democratic and Republican officials told The Associated Press Tuesday.

The officials disclosed Hickenlooper’s plans on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to pre-empt his announcement, expected later Tuesday at the state capitol.

Facing a tough re-election challenge, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter abruptly announced last week that he would not seek another term. Hickenlooper made it known that he was considering a run, and he was encouraged by President Barack Obama to do so.

The likely Republican candidate is former Congressman Scott McInnis.

While preliminary polling (from Rasmussen, so take it with a large grain of salt) shows McInnis with a slight lead over Hickenlooper, it’s far smaller than the lead he would have had over incumbent Governor Bill Ritter had Ritter decided to run for re-election.