September 12, 2019 at 7:55 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Dan Baer bows out in Colorado race for U.S. Senate seat
Daniel Baer, United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay U.S. ambassador Daniel Baerdropped his bid for U.S. Senate in Colorado. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Daniel Baer, an openly gay foreign policy expert who served as a U.S. ambassador during the Obama administration, has dropped his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado.

Baer announced he’d suspend his campaign Thursday and would endorse former Gov. John Hicklenlooper, who launched a bid to run for U.S. Senate after his failed campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am suspending my campaign for the U.S. Senate and endorsing John Hickenlooper as the candidate who will beat Cory Gardner next November,” Baer said. “We must win this seat!”

Baer began his short-lived campaign in April to run for Senate. Had he succeeded in winning election, he would have been the first openly gay man elected to U.S. Senate.

Hickenlooper said in a statement he welcomes the support of Baer and his spouse, Brian Walsh, in efforts to defeat Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner.

“From working with Secretary Clinton on her famous LGBTQ human rights speech to working with me when I was governor to tackle equity challenges in education, Dan’s career has been about making more things possible for more people,” Hickenlooper said. “His history-making, record-breaking campaign won’t be the last we hear from him.”

Previously, Baer served as deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, then became U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe.

Baer is popular in D.C. circles and has close to ties to the Clinton family, including Chelsea Clinton, but would have struggled in Colorado with name recognition in a race against Hickenlooper, who has twice been elected governor and was on the debate stage as a 2020 presidential candidate.

During his Senate campaign, Baer said in an interview with the Washington Blade his foreign policy credentials would help animate his political career and the United States should change its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Baer said Saudi Arabia, which notoriously for violating human rights, including LGBT human rights, is “not an ally.”

“We have security interests across the region, and we need to have a more robust and accountable bilateral relationship,” Baer said. “That doesn’t give Saudi Arabia a special position that they don’t merit. It’s not that we should be looking for some way to be more aggressive or more confrontational with them. It’s just that Saudi Arabia does not merit — they are not an ally, they don’t share our values.”

Over the course of his Senate campaign, Baer earned the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and an impressive fundraising haul of $1.35 million for second-quarter 2019. The Blade has placed an email inquiry in with Baer on where that money will go in the aftermath the suspension of his campaign.

It’s the second time Baer has ran for public office, then dropped out of the race. In 2017, he launched a campaign to run for a congressional seat, but then discontinued it after Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) decided to run for re-election.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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